Alcohol related deaths and injuries have become a huge problem in Australia, with hospitals being inundated with patients suffering injuries or side effects linked to alcohol. Some believe that introducing a minimum pricing law will help to eliminate these alcohol related issues.
A recent study conducted in Canada and published in the journal “Addiction” claims that increasing alcohol prices of cheaper drinks will have a positive impact on heavier drinker’s health and result in less alcohol related deaths because it will force drinkers who consume lower end liquors to minimise their intake. These are also the consumers who are often binge drinking and abusing alcohol, resulting in a number of negative consequences and side effects.
The research was carried out during 2002-2009 after Canada implemented minimum pricing limits. This resulted in a 32 per cent decline in alcohol related deaths, a better outcome than anyone expected. The Canadian government implemented the plans and thereafter experienced overwhelming success in minimising alcohol related deaths.
Read what was posted about the study on Channel4.com
Lead author Dr Tim Stockwell, from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, said: “Despite popular opinion to the contrary, even the heaviest drinkers reduce their consumption when minimum alcohol prices increase. It is hard otherwise to explain the significant changes in alcohol-related deaths observed in British Columbia.”
The researchers focused on “wholly alcohol-attributable deaths” which included causes such as poisoning, psychosis, heart problems, pancreatitis and gastritis. The study however was also complicated by another policy in British Columbia under which alcohol sales were partially privatised after having previous been controlled through government-owned stores. A 10 per cent increase in numbers of the stores was associated with a 2 per cent increase in alcohol-related deaths.
These findings will be keenly scrutinised by alcohol policy makers, particularly in the UK where the government plans to introduce a minimum price on alcohol to try to clamp down on binge drinking and anti-social behaviour.
The study is significant because it is the first to highlight the effects of minimum alcohol pricing on mortality. Basically by increasing the minimum price of the cheapest liquors government can reduce the number of premature deaths linked to alcohol.
There are groups in Oz that are also in favour of the minimum pricing. According to the Australian National Preventative Health Agency imposing a minimum pricing on the alcohol industry would help to alleviate many of the alcohol fuelled problems experienced recently.
Other countries that have already introduced the minimum alcohol pricing are Russia, Scotland and Ukraine. Minimum pricing laws would introduce a minimum price per standard drink (or unit of alcohol) that alcoholic beverages must be sold for.
Problem drinkers, it is argued are more likely to consume cheap alcoholic beverages and so a minimum pricing policy would be able to at least minimise the amount of alcohol they can afford to consume and in so doing perhaps reduce the high alcohol fuelled crime statistics and injuries.