The British government is looking into plans to enforce minimum prices for alcohol following a new report which says such a move could vastly improve the health of the nation.
While the idea has led to accusations of a “nanny state,” Public Health England (PHE) says that it could reduce the number of people who have alcohol related diseases and issues. PHE is suggesting that a minimum price should be set and that how alcohol firms are allowed to market and advertise should be examined.
Even thought there has been a reduction in alcohol consumption in the UK, it varies by geographic area, and people in Britain are still drinking more than they did 30 years ago. The PHE says part of the reason for that is the low cost of alcohol.
The body has carried out a new study, in which it claims that setting a minimum price for alcohol would reduce rates of alcohol-related harm among the British population as well as saving the beleagured NHS money.
The suggestion follows a law introduced in Scotland four years ago to bring in a minimum 50p per unit price for alcohol. However, the Scotch Whisky Association launched a legal challenge against the new legislation, and the case is still ongoing.
Whitehall has reacted by saying that while there is no doubt alcohol abuse causes significant health issues across the country, Downing Street did not want to interfere with the right of adults to drink responsibly. It also said that any proposals to put minimum pricing in place would be held under review until the outcome of the Scottish case.
PHE pointed to a province in Canada, which has increased minimum prices by 10 per cent, and has seen significant reductions in the amount of beer, spirits and wine consumed by its residents.