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Minimum pricing needed now more than ever

1 Nov 2011

A new report published today by SHAAP and AFS shows that minimum unit pricing is needed now more than ever as alcohol continues to be sold at pocket money prices. The report finds that despite recent duty increases, alcohol is still being sold for as little as 14p a unit in Scotland.

The report demonstrates how the alcohol industry uses price, place, promotion and product design to persuade us that too much alcohol is not enough. Super-low prices are just one of the industry’s ‘tricks of the trade’ to get people to buy ever more alcohol. In supermarkets in Scotland within the last two weeks:

  • Two cans of lager were sold for less than the price of a can of leading brand cola.
  • A young person receiving the average pocket money of £5.89 could buy 8 litres of cider containing 33 units of alcohol – enough alcohol to kill them.
  • Branded vodka was sold for 32p a unit – less than a can of leading brand cola.

Dr Evelyn Gillan, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said:

“We need minimum pricing now more than ever. Over the last few weeks, supermarkets have sought to undermine the new licensing legislation banning bulk discount buys by reducing the price of individual cans or bottles and encouraging online customers to buy cases of wine distributed from England. These antics make it clear that the big supermarkets are motivated by profit not public interest. This only serves to reinforce the case for government intervention through measures like minimum pricing if we want to reduce record levels of alcohol harm in Scotland. The vociferous opposition to minimum pricing by some of the big alcohol producers is reminiscent of the tactics the tobacco industry used to try to resist regulation which proved to be successful in saving lives. They should be seen for what they are – big business putting profits before health”.

Dr Bruce Ritson, Chair of SHAAP added:

“Abundant evidence shows the most effective way of reducing consumption and harm is increasing the price of alcohol relative to disposable income. Minimum pricing offers us the opportunity to save lives and protect communities from the devastating effects of harmful alcohol use. We know that minimum pricing is being discussed by Ministers in Wales and Northern Ireland and alcohol agencies in England are calling on Westminster to follow Scotland’s lead in introducing the policy. The coalition government’s favoured pricing measure of banning the sale of alcohol below the cost of duty and VAT will have virtually no effect on consumption and harm. Our colleagues in England are rightly looking to Scotland to lead the way in the UK and we hope the Scottish Parliament unites around this important piece of legislation.” 

For more information download: Four Steps to alcohol misuse: how the industry uses price, place, promotion and product design to persuade us that too much alcohol is not enough