Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, joined the Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA) to celebrate the recent strides forward in alcohol policy and call for further measures to tackle alcohol abuse.
The ripples of harmful alcohol consumption pass from individuals, through families and communities, and impact our society as a whole. Alcohol contributes to the death of 65 people every day in England alone, is involved in 39% of all violent crime in England and Wales, and costs NHS England £3.5 billion every year.
To tackle this, minimum unit pricing (MUP) has been launched 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.
“Alcohol can, in some circumstances, have a truly devastating effect on individuals and our communities. We need to support targeted, evidence-based programmes that allow us to reduce alcohol harm. This can make individuals, their families, their communities, and our country safer and healthier.”