The Northern Ireland Assembly Health Minister, Jim Wells, announced plans to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol sales in Northern Ireland. Research from the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group (SARG) indicates that this could reduce drink-related hospital admissions by more than 2,400 a year.
A new report from the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group (SARG), commissioned by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) and the Department for Social Development (DSD), shows that introducing a Minimum Unit Price (MUP) would reduce alcohol related deaths by 63 per year and save healthcare services £1.8 million within the first 12 months and £59 million over 20 years. MUP would minimally impact moderate drinkers, even those below the poverty line who would spend only an estimated additional 50p per person, per year on alcohol. But the policy would effectively target harmful drinkers who spend almost £3,500 per year on alcohol. The report suggests that these drinkers can be expected to reduce their drinking by 386 units as a result of a 50p MUP, which is approximately 190 pints of beer or 40 bottles of wine.
Colin Angus, from ScHARR, who authored the report, said: “The results of this study show that minimum pricing is a well targeted intervention, with the greatest impact on the heaviest drinkers who suffer the most harm as a result of their drinking whilst moderate drinkers remain largely unaffected.
“These findings reinforce those of our previous work in England and Scotland in showing that a minimum unit price would bring substantial health and social benefits and significant financial savings to health care services and the criminal justice system.”