Minimum unit pricing of alcohol would reduce deaths related to heavy drinking
Heavy drinking is a problem faced by many men and women with social and health consequences. People who are addicted to drinking seem to drink lots of alcohol, an average of four bottles of vodka each week. The peculiarity of this group is that they buy only cheap alcohol. A study conducted among alcohol related cirrhosis patients in the University of Southampton and published in the journal ‘Clinical Medicine’, found that heavy drinkers had a tendency to buy cheapest liquor available irrespective of their income level. They were found to spend on an average nearly 33p per unit and this was not dependent on the income of the person. In comparison, low risk moderate drinkers were ready to spend more and buy quality alcohol with an average of more than one dollar per unit.
The study claims that if a minimum unit price (MUP) was fixed, the availability of cheap alcohol would be reduced to a certain extent. If the government sets a MUP at 50p, it would affect only heavy drinkers and not moderate drinkers thus not causing any harm to business in pubs or bars. The fixation of MUP is considered to be a safe method to reduce the use of cheap liquor as the availability of cheap liquor is one of the contributing factors to heavy drinking.
Professor Nick Sheron from the University of Southampton is of the opinion that when you set a MUP, it targets only the cheap alcohol that is consumed by heavy drinkers and it does not affect moderate drinkers.
Professor Ian Gilmore, the RCP special advisor on Alcohol and Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance is of the opinion that Minimum Unit price could bring in a lot of benefits as it curbs the drinking of heavy drinkers. Studies repeatedly has shown the benefits of fixing MUP as this deters heavy drinkers who prefer cheap drinks as they consume lots of alcohol irrespective of their income status.