Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, joined the Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA)’s Parliamentary Event to celebrate the recent strides forward in alcohol policy and outline the many challenges that remain.
The ripples of harmful alcohol consumption pass from individuals, through families and communities, and impact our society as a whole. These effects are substantial and wide-reaching as alcohol contributes to the death of 65 people every day in England alone1, is involved in 39% of all violent crime in England and Wales,2 and costs NHS England £3.5 billion every year.3
The most substantial recent development in alcohol policy has been the adoption of minimum unit pricing (MUP) in some, but not all, parts of the British Isles. Last May Scotland led the way by introducing a 50p MUP, and Wales will do so this year. This policy, which means no alcoholic product can be sold at less than 50p per unit of alcohol, targets the highest strength, cheapest products and has little to no impact on pubs and moderate drinkers. MUP will also be introduced in the Republic of Ireland in the near future, but there are no current plans to do so in England.
While it is still too early to say what the impact of MUP in Scotland has been so far, it is expected to deliver significant health and social benefits. In England, the introduction of MUP is expected to save 525 lives and prevent 22,000 hospital admissions every year. 4
Norman Lamb MP said:
“I am acutely aware that alcohol can, in some circumstances, have a truly devastating effect on individuals.
I was pleased to attend this reception on Parliament, and support calls for targeted, evidence-based programmes that will allow us to reduce alcohol harm. I strongly support the introduction of a Minimum Unit Price.”
Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the AHA, commented:
“The magnitude of the impact of alcohol on our society is truly staggering.
The forthcoming Prevention Green Paper provides a great opportunity to reduce these levels of alcohol harm and allow England to catch up with its neighbours.
We are calling on the Government to also introduce minimum unit pricing in England, a policy that can save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands of episodes of harm each year, without significant cost to those who consume alcohol in moderation.”
The Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA) is a coalition of 50 health and alcohol organisations who share a common interest in reducing alcohol-related harm, and who campaign for evidence-based policies to reduce this harm. Members include medical royal colleges, charities, patient representatives and alcohol health campaigners. For more information, please visit: www.ahauk.org
- PHE, Local Alcohol Profiles for England (2016);
- ONS The nature of violent crime in England and Wales: year ending March 2018 (2018);
- PHE Health matters: harmful drinking and alcohol dependence (2016).
- Angus C. et al, Alcohol and cancer trends: Intervention Scenarios, University of Sheffield and Cancer Research UK (2016).