NICE backs call for minimum pricing for alcohol
A report by the House of Commons Health Select Committee, published today, urges the government to radically overhaul the current alcohol policy by bringing in a minimum price per unit. MPs estimate that introducing a price of 50p per unit could save over 3,000 lives per year, and a minimum fee of 40p, 1,100 lives.
The report rejects as a myth the suggestion that minimum pricing would unfairly affect moderate drinkers: at 40p per unit it would cost a moderate drinker (6 units per week) 11p more than at present, and a woman drinking the maximum 15 units per week could buy her weekly total of alcohol for six pounds.
NICE will issue three pieces of alcohol guidance which will cover the pricing of alcohol as well as examining how alcohol is advertised and the availability of alcoholic drinks. We will also look at how best to identify alcohol misuse within primary care and how to manage acute alcohol withdrawal and liver diseases, like cirrhosis, associated with excess drinking.
Professor Mike Kelly, Public Health Excellence Centre Director, NICE said: “NICE will issue public health guidance on alcohol in spring. The NICE Independent Advisory Committee that has drafted the recommendations has considered a range of evidence including that relating to minimum pricing. It is very interesting to see what the Select Committee have recommended.
“The average level of alcohol consumption in the UK has been increasing steadily for a number of years now. We are particularly concerned by the increase in the level of drinking among the population as a whole. Problem drinkers and binge drinkers are just the peak of a much bigger underlying iceberg. Setting minimum price per unit could help to address the situation.”
NICE has already issued public health guidance on interventions in schools to prevent and reduce alcohol use among children and young people: http://guidance.nice.org.uk/PH7
8 January 2010
This page was last updated: 14 April 2010