Britain’s Government has yesterday announced that it will not be taking forward proposals to introduce MUP at this time, but it would be legislating to ban sales below the cost of duty plus VAT.

Despite being in possession of the latest evidence confirming that minimum unit pricing (MUP) is far more effective at tackling harm than banning ‘below cost sales’ of alcohol, the Home Office yesterday chose to ignore this evidence and abandon MUP in favour of the least effective option.

New research commissioned by the Government as part of its consultation on the Alcohol Strategs was also published yesterday by the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group in the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR). The report on the impacts of alcohol pricing policies shows that a 45p MUP will have a 40 to 50 times larger effect on consumption than banning below-cost sales.

ScHARR’s updated modelling data provide a comprehensive breakdown of the estimated consumption, financial, health and crime effects of a ban on below cost sales compared to a minimum unit price of 45p and 50p in England.

· A ban on below cost sales will have a negligible effect on the annual number of units consumed by even harmful drinkers (3 units for harmful drinkers) compared to annual reductions made at a minimum price of 45p/unit (137 units per harmful drinker) and 50p/unit (200 units/drinker at harmful levels)

A ban on below cost sales will reduce 14 alcohol-related deaths in the general population in Year 10 of its introduction. At a minimum price of 45p/unit, 624 lives will be saved (554 harmful drinkers). At 50p/unit, 960 lives will be saved (812 harmful drinkers).

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