Alcohol price hike ‘reduces hospital admissions’

  • Post category:World News

RAISING alcohol prices by a tenth leads to a near identical cut in the proportion of drink-related hospital admissions, a study has found.

Ӣ Research suggests raising alcohol prices by tenth linked to similar reduction in drink-related hospital admissions

”¢ 10 per cent increase in average minimum price of alcohol drinks associated with 8.9 decrease in “acute alcohol attributable admissions”, study finds

From The Scotsman

Health Secretary Alex Neil has hailed research by the Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia during his visit to Brussels to promote the Scottish Government’s minimum unit pricing policy to the EU.

The study coincides with a separate report which found that key players in the alcohol industry may have misled a Scottish Government consultation on minimum pricing.

The PLOS (Public Library of Science) Medicine online journal claimed that evidence on effective alcohol control measures was “distorted” by supermarkets, drinks companies and trade associations.

Mr Neil said the British Columbia study reinforces the Scottish Government’s belief that minimum pricing will lead to significant health benefits.

The study’s author Professor Tim Stockwell found that a 10 per cent increase in the average minimum price of all alcoholic beverages was associated with an 8.9 per cent decrease in acute alcohol attributable admissions and a 9.2 per cent reduction in chronic alcohol-attributable admissions two years later.

Speaking at a seminar entitled ’Calling Time on Europe’s Alcohol Problem – Using Pricing Policies to Protect Public Health in Europe’, Mr Neil said: “Since the 1960s, we have seen alcohol become increasingly more affordable, more available and with more aggressive marketing.

“With this, we have seen a rise in consumption and the resulting levels of harm to people who consistently drink too much

“Simply allowing this to continue is not an option. Scotland has some alarming statistics. Since the early 1980s, alcohol-related hospital admissions have quadrupled, and the overall death rate from liver cirrhosis in 2010 was around 40 per cent higher than the European average.

“These figures show that Scotland’s consumption and the effect it has on our people and on our health service are at unacceptably high levels. Professor Stockwell has highlighted hugely important empirical evidence, which is very relevant to what we’re trying to achieve in Scotland.

“Minimum pricing is the right thing to do, as part of our overall strategy to tackle the effect drink is having on our society. It is an innovative policy and a significant step forward that not only reinforces Scotland’s world-wide reputation as a public health pioneer, but much more importantly, will save lives.”

Mr Neil earlier accused drinks industry leaders of overstepping the mark by allegedly distorting evidence to play down the benefits of minimum pricing.

“You would expect the industry to put its point of view, and to do so robustly,” he told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme.

“The Scotch whisky industry is doing so robustly; they’ve taken the Scottish Government to court to try to avoid the implementation of minimum pricing policy.

“I think there’s a big difference between defending your industry, lobbying, and trying to promote the interests of your members like the Scotch Whisky Association or the Pub Association or whoever, which is perfectly legitimate, and deliberately twisting or misleading information and doing that to a government and a parliament.

“That is just not acceptable. It’s well beyond the pale if it’s true.”

Dr Evelyn Gillan, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said: “Minimum pricing targets the strongest drinks, sold at the cheapest prices and most often drunk by the heaviest drinkers. It will impact on those causing most harm to themselves and society while having very little effect on moderate drinkers.

“It is regrettable that the Scotch Whisky Association and their European counterparts have delayed this month’s introduction of minimum pricing in Scotland by their legal challenge. This delay will cost lives.”