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Data providing evidence in alcohol pricing debate

Article dated: 4 March 2013

Five datasets hosted by the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) underpin the research evidence which UK and Scottish governments are using for plans to reduce alcohol misuse.

alcoholResearchers from the University of Sheffield have estimated the reduction in alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms that would result from minimum pricing policies and restricting price-based promotions. They based their research on data from five government surveys made available via ESDS (soon to be the UK Data Service), a national data service part-funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

In 2012 the Scottish Government based its decision to introduce a bill supporting a 50p minimum unit price for alcohol on findings from a version of the Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model (SAPM), adapted for Scotland. The UK Government also used a version of SAPM to provide core evidence for its plans, announced in November 2012, to pursue minimum unit pricing for alcohol.

Based on The Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model, researchers estimate that a 50p minimum unit price of alcohol in England would…

Reduce overall alcohol consumption by 6.7 per cent leading to:

  • 3,060 fewer deaths and 98,000 fewer hospital admission in the tenth year after policy implementation
  • 10,500 fewer violent crimes, 440,000 fewer days absent from work in the first year

Produce savings over 10 years of:

  • £1.6 billion health and social care costs
  • £410 million in costs to the criminal justice system
  • £360 million in reduced absenteeism from work costs

The research findings have been published in the academic journals The Lancet and Addiction. They have also received extensive media coverage, including BBC and Channel 4 News. Full details are now available as an impact case study on the ESRC website.

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