Minimum alcohol price ‘would improve UK health’, says Public Health England

Spirit bottles lined up behind the bar in a pub on March 11, 2011 in London, England

The review by Public Health England (PHE) said people were drinking more than they did 40 years ago, especially women.

Most alcohol was now drunk at home, PHE found.

It also discovered alcohol was more affordable than ever and found evidence that a minimum price would save on healthcare costs.

PHE’s study said deaths due to drinking had risen and more working years of life were lost as a result of alcohol-related deaths than from more than 12 types of cancer combined.

It added there were more than one million hospital admissions relating to alcohol each year and liver disease had increased four-fold since 1970.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said: “Increased duty on the cheapest drinks, alongside minimum unit pricing, would make a real difference to the lives of some of our most vulnerable groups and ease the burden on our health service.

White cider

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“These measures would also lower the burden of premature mortality due to alcohol, thereby increasing economic output.

“At the same time, ordinary drinkers will not be penalised.

“Minimum unit pricing will leave pub prices untouched, and tax on the cheapest, strongest drinks will be targeted at those drinks which are preferentially consumed by harmful and dependent drinkers.”

The Children’s Society said millions of children were at risk of abuse and neglect because their parents drank too much.

Chief Executive Matthew Reed said: “We know children as young as five are calling helplines because they are worried about their parents’ drinking.

“We need the Government to act now and protect children from alcohol misuse by increasing prices.”

The Scottish Parliament passed legislation four years ago to introduce a 50p per unit minimum price for alcohol.

This was challenged by the Scotch Whisky Association and is the subject of an ongoing legal case.

Number 10 said it would continue to look at minimum prices in light of the latest findings.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “What this report shows is that clearly abuse of alcohol can cause significant health problems, but no one wants to interfere with the rights of adults who want to enjoy a drink responsibly.

“The issue of minimum unit pricing is under review while we await the outcome of the court case in Scotland.”

A plan to introduce a minimum price of 45p per unit of alcohol was shelved by the coalition government three years ago.

The Portman Group, which represents the drinks industry, said parts of the PHE report were not accurate.

[Source:-SKY NEWS]