Scottish ministers have proposed a minimum 50p per alcohol unit. A bottle of wine would set you back at least £4.69 and four cans of Tesco strong dry cider would rise from £1.80 to £4.67. Will this rein in alcohol abuse?
Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish health secretary, announced plans to introduce the minimum price, upping it from the previously considered 45p:
‘Cheap alcohol comes at a price and now is the time to tackle the toll that Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol is taking on our society.’
The new minimum price will also affect multibuys, since a bottle of wine won’t be able to cost less than £4.69, supermarkets will have to stay away from ‘three bottles for £10-12’ offers (the cheapest offer would have to be £14.01 for 12.5% bottles). And when looking to spirits, Tesco’s own-brand vodka will rise 34% from £8.72 to £13.13.
It’s been worked out that alcoholics would have to spend an extra £120 on drink a year.
The new minimum price is expected to go through the Scottish parliament, with Scottish Labour likely to support the proposal as long as there’s a £130m ‘health levy’ on supermarkets, so that the government can get back the supermarket’s increased revenue from the new 50p price.
Your say on minimum alcohol prices
‘It will mildly inconvenience most people, and cause a few people to divert food money into drink purchases.’
Norman agreed, adding:
‘No, it’s just another tax on the ordinary man. There is no evidence despite what the government says that the price of alcohol is a factor in binge drinking. Just as 20p on a Greggs pasty won’t stop obesity.’
Brigitte added to the Facebook chorus:
‘No it won’t! What is needed is a change in the way we educate our young people and a culture change in our attitudes.’
There was a similar consensus in the comments on Which? Convo, with Womble10 explaining:
‘Sensible drinkers will be the main losers, as always! Binge drinkers will find the money. It will make no difference to the appalling levels of drunkenness on our streets.’
However, Maurice was of a different opinion and argued that price needed to be tackled:
‘The medical professions, health and social services and the police all know that establishing a minimum cost per unit of alcohol will result in a reduced per capita consumption and an associated decrease in alcohol-related problems.
‘The facts remains that as long as alcohol is ridiculously cheap and widely available we will continue to face the many and varied social problems directly caused by over consumption. I would not mind paying extra for alcohol.’
So, whether it’s Scotland’s 50p or the 40p proposed by David Cameron for England and Wales, will a new minimum price curb binge drinking, or will it become a tax on responsible drinkers?