Sheffield research group call for minimum booze price

Prof Sir Ian Gilmore
Prof Sir Ian Gilmore
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Calls by a Sheffield research group for a minimum alcohol price have been backed by national and international experts.

Now the Government has been urged to bring in the changes.

Sheffield University’s Sheffield Alcohol Research Group recommended a 45p per unit minimum price two years ago to cut soaring deaths from liver disease.

New research in Canada has found the benefits of minimum pricing could be up to three times higher than predicted by Sheffield University.

And Prof Sir Ian Gilmore, Britain’s most senior liver disease expert, said it is now time to bring in the policy after deaths from alcohol-related liver conditions jumped four fold since the 1970s.

The calls were made at a conference in London hosted by charity Alcohol Concern and attended by members of the Sheffield research team.

Prof Tim Stockwell, director of the Centre for Addictions Research in British Columbia, Canada, said: “After the Sheffield research, we did studies which showed that for every 10 per cent increase in the minimum unit price, there was a 9 per cent reduction in acute alcohol-related hospital admissions from poisoning, violence and road crash injuries.

“There was a reduction in serious liver diseases over two to three years.”

Canada has had minimum prices since the 1920s and the study looked at trends in 89 areas over a nine-year period.

Sir Ian, president of the British Society of Gastroenterology, said he backed minimum pricing.

He said: “Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is not following the evidence on how we can reduce alcohol-related liver diseases in terms of availability, promotion and pricing of alcohol.

“Instead, regulation is getting laxer.

“Modelling by Sheffield University suggests the poor but moderate drinker would be paying in the region of a couple of pounds a year extra from minimum pricing.

“At the moment, supermarket discounting is focused on bulk discounts for alcohol.”

Sir Ian said deaths nationally from liver disease have risen from 1,200 a year in 1970 to 5,000 a year now.

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