Tuesday 22 December 2009

Minimum effectiveness

From the school of I could have told you so, a report by Wilson Drinks Research says that a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol would be unlikely to affect overall consumption. Only one in five adult drinkers in the UK said they would buy less alcohol and spend the same amount they do now, while more than half of those responding to the survey said they would either spend more on the same amount of drink or look for cheaper drink alternatives.

Interestingly, given that such a measure has been most strongly advocated in the country, “Scottish drinkers were the most likely (35 per cent) to take the hit on pricing and continue to drink the same amount should minimum pricing be introduced.”

Of course, if you jacked the minimum price up high enough, it would start to affect overall consumption, but I suspect we would be looking at the £20 bottle of whisky and £1.50 can of cooking lager before that started to happen to any significant degree. Well before then, ordinary middle-of-the-road drinkers would have started to realise that a measure claimed to be targeting cash-strapped problem drinkers was actually hitting them hard in the pocket. And of course there would be all the inevitable unintended consequences such as a rise in smuggling and the growth of illicit distilling and home brewing for resale.


  1. Oh, give over. I'm not convinced about minimum pricing myself, but a bit of an opinion poll (of unknown sample size and methodology) or a study comissioned by SAB Miller (you mentioned previously) are probably of limited usefulness in this debate. Anyway, it's all OK with with Gordon Brown in charge, he doesn't want to cause "the responsible, sensible majority of moderate drinkers to have to pay more or suffer as a result of the excesses of a minority". Apparently.

  2. Oh give over.

    Sorry, do you misunderstand the objective of a blog? One of the central elements is to highlight current news items and put a bit of personal spin on them. You say you are not convinced about minimum pricing - surely this report (which is obviously to some extent limited and subjective) supports that view.

    The only proof of the pudding is in the eating, of course, but I'd lay money on these conclusions being correct, that a 50p/unit minimum price would make no appreciable difference to either overall alcohol consumption or our supposed alcohol-related problems.

  3. No man, I dig it. I was commenting on what you wrote. Bye.

  4. Fair point, you're not not wrong, curmudgy, and all that, but where are the dancing bloggers?

    Tandy's got better posts, I'm afraid.


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