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Minimum unit pricing

The BMA has long been calling on governments across the UK to implement a minimum unit price for the sale of alcohol.

  • In Scotland, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Scottish Government can legally implement legislation to introduce a minimum unit price of 50p per unit.
  • In Wales, the Welsh Assembly has announced plans for new legislation on alcohol pricing.
  • In England and Northern Ireland, campaigning continues for a minimum unit price to be introduced.


Why introduce a minimum unit price?

The BMA believes the minimum price should be no less than 50p per unit.

The advantage of minimum pricing, and the reason some brewers support it as well as a vast array of health professionals, is that its impact is focused on heavy drinkers and young people. Virtually all pub drinks and many shop-bought beers, wines and spirits would not be affected by a 50p threshold.

  • Around 1 in 5 of the adult population drink alcohol in harmful ways
  • 80% of purchases are made by 30% of the population
  • Alcohol related deaths in the UK have increased significantly from 8,362 in 2005 to 8,736 in 2015

UK teenagers are among those most likely to report frequently drinking heavily, while also having the most positive expectations of being drunk.

Time and again, it has been decisive (if overdue) action by the government that has had more impact than a single doctor can have in a lifetime.

Providing clean water, and a ban on smoking in public places, is no longer controversial. Nor will a fair price for alcohol that respects its millions of safe drinkers, but also its potential harm.


Further reading