Commenting on the announcement by Health Minister Robin Swann today that he is committed to a full consultation on Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol, Dr Paul Darragh of the BMA’s Board of Science said: “This is a very welcome announcement from the Minister.
“BMA Northern Ireland has been lobbying for the introduction of minimum unit pricing for alcohol here for several years. Every day right across Northern Ireland doctors see first-hand the devastating effects of heavy and binge drinking on our patients and their families.
“Some 1 in 5 people here consume alcohol above recommended limits with a minority consuming very heavy levels. The affordability of alcohol has increased significantly over the past 25 years, and BMA believes that a minimum price per unit of alcohol should be set at no less than 50 pence per unit. We also need action to restrict the advertising of alcohol.
“The impact excessive consumption has on the lives of those who are drinking, their families lives and the pressure it puts on the health service cannot be underestimated. Alcohol is also a risk factor for other harms including domestic violence, child abuse, road traffic crashes and criminal and disorderly behaviour.
“Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol is a targeted, effective measure proven to reduce problem drinking and all the harms that this causes. We are the only devolved nation in the UK to not have legislation on minimum unit pricing for alcohol in place, so we look forward to engaging with the department on this consultation.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.