Study backs booze curbs

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Minimum prices for alcohol would reduce deaths and hospital admissions among high risk drinkers who purchase large quantities of low cost booze, according to a new Sheffield University report.

But setting the price at 45p per unit would have negligible effects on low income moderate drinkers’ alcohol consumption and spending, says co-author Professor Petra Meier.

The study analyses how drinkers respond to price changes, and estimates how those in different income brackets and social groups would change their habits and spending if a minimum price was implemented.

Professor Meier said: “Our study finds no evidence to support the concerns highlighted by Government and the alcohol industry that minimum unit pricing would penalise responsible drinkers on low incomes.

“Instead minimum pricing is a policy that is targeted at those who consume large quantities of cheap alcohol.”

Harmful drinkers on the lowest incomes would be most affected by minimum pricing, say researchers. They each spend on average £2,700 a year on alcohol, with around two fifths of the alcohol they consume purchased for less than 45p per unit.