Research published in Canada has linked the introduction of minimum pricing with a significant drop in alcohol-related deaths.
The findings, in the journal Addiction, were welcomed by health campaigners but they have been criticised as “misleading and inaccurate” by the drinks industry, which has questioned the statistical basis of the research, reports the BBC today
“The Scottish government’s plans to introduce a minimum unit price are on hold pending a court challenge. The researchers said a rise in alcohol prices of 10% had led to a 32% reduction in alcohol-related deaths. The Canadian study was carried out between 2002 and 2009 in British Columbia, where alcohol could only be sold directly to the public in government-owned stores. It suggests that, when drink prices rose, there were “immediate, substantial and significant reductions” in deaths wholly attributable to alcohol abuse. The authors suggest increasing the price of cheaper drinks reduces the consumption of heavier drinkers who prefer them.
“Dr Tim Stockwell, director of the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, said: ‘This study adds to the scientific evidence that, despite popular opinion to the contrary, even the heaviest drinkers reduce their consumption when minimum alcohol prices increase. “It is hard otherwise to explain the significant changes in alcohol-related deaths observed in British Columbia.’ During the period under study, the law changed in Canada, permitting private liquor stores to open. A 10% growth in the number of such outlets was associated with an increase (2%) in all alcohol-related deaths. This is the first study to highlight the effects on mortality of alcohol minimum pricing, although the Scottish government has used previous research from the University of Sheffield to claim consumption of alcohol would be reduced if prices rose.”
Full story at BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-21358995