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Research on the likely impact of and public attitudes towards a minimum unit price for alcohol in Wales

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  • Release date: 8 December 2014
Two pieces of research were commissioned to support the development of proposals to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol as outlined in the White Paper ‘Listening to you: Your health matters’.

Model-based appraisal of minimum unit pricing for alcohol in Wales

Main conclusions

  • Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) policies would be effective in reducing alcohol consumption, alcohol related harms (including alcohol-related deaths, hospitalisations, crimes and workplace absences) and the costs associated with those harms.
  • A ban on below-cost selling (implemented as a ban on selling alcohol for below the cost of duty plus the VAT payable on that duty) would have a negligible impact on alcohol consumption or related harms.
  • MUP policies would only have a small impact on ‘moderate drinkers’. Somewhat larger impacts would be experienced by ‘increasing risk drinkers’, with the most substantial effects being experienced by ‘high risk drinkers’.
  • MUP policies would have a larger impact on those in poverty, particularly ‘high risk drinkers’, than those not in poverty. However, those in poverty also experience larger relative gains in health and the ‘high risk drinkers’ are estimated to marginally reduce their spending due to their reduced drinking under higher MUP levels.

Public attitudes to minimum unit pricing of alcohol

Key findings

  • The work  suggests that the law may be well targeted at reducing consumption among more risky drinkers.
  • A successful minimum unit pricing law is likely to have most impact on off-trade alcohol sales, and may therefore reduce ‘pre-loading’. The survey found that a greater proportion of ‘increasing or higher risk drinkers’ consume alcohol at home more frequently – and are more likely to ‘pre-load’ before a night out – than ‘lower risk drinkers’.
  • At the 50 pence minimum unit price level, a slightly higher proportion of ‘increasing or higher risk drinkers’ said they would drink less alcohol than ‘lower risk drinkers’ – but as the minimum unit price increased, so did the gap between the proportion of ‘increasing or higher risk’ and ‘lower risk drinkers’ saying they would drink less alcohol.
  • Finally, the survey found that a greater proportion of respondents were in favour of a minimum unit price being introduced in Wales than were opposed to it. Support, however, was much lower among ‘increasing or higher risk drinkers’ – potentially reflecting the prospect that this group are the most likely to be impacted by such a law.

Contact

Tel: 029 2082 6539
Email: janine.hale@wales.gsi.gov.uk

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