Minimum pricing evidence base is "non-existent"

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The government’s plans for minimum pricing have a virtually non-existence evidence base and will prove a massive vote loser, according to two separate reports published today.

The Adam Smith Institute published a report claiming the coalition’s policy was based on “false assumptions and wild speculation”.

It attacked what it said was the flawed computer predictions in the Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model used to predict the impact of minimum pricing.

“In the era of evidence-based policy, it seems that speculative statistics are considered superior to no statistics and a wrong answer is better than no answer,” said Christopher Snowdon, co-author of the report.

The model assumes heavy drinkers are more likely to reduce their alcohol consumption as a result of a price rise but the institute claims it contrasts with evidence that heavy drinkers are less price-sensitive.

The report also said the model ignores other potential negative social outcomes of minimum pricing, such as a likely increase in the illicit alcohol trade and the greater poverty it may push many consumers into.

Meanwhile corporate advisers Zolfo Cooper released a separate report based on research among more than 2,000 voters claiming 60% were against minimum pricing, with the majority big fans of discounted alcohol in supermarkets.

Meanwhile former health minister and Exeter MP, Ben Bradshaw, warned minimum pricing would be “devastating” for the cider industry. He also claimed there was “no evidence” it would reduce binge drinking.

“The government should drop this barmy plan now.” he said.

Readers' comments (1)

  • The Government should first concentrate on taking action with regard to the display of alcohol in supermarkets.

    In my local Tesco supermarket this week there are 11 displays of alcohol outside the main alcohol aisles with no under 25 or unit signs. In the store entrance there was a large display of well known spirits brands together with toilet paper, again with no under 25 or unit signs.

    In my local Morrisons supermarket there was only one under 25 sign in the main alcohol aisles and this was hidden by boxes of beer.

    Both Morrisons and Sainsburys are currently retailing boxes of beer in till areas.

    This is a common situation countrywide and due entirely to the Portman Group withdrawing the Merchandising Section of its Code of Practice in 2003 a few months after complaints about supermarkets were upheld.

    Even though Mr Lansley, when Minister of Health, asked supermarket chains twice to voluntarily withdraw alcohol displays from store entrances, only Asda agreed to do this. All others, and Tesco are the main culprit, put profit before responsibility.

    The Government MUST urgently add a section on display of alcohol to the Licensing Act especially as Tobacco products are now hidden from view in supermarkets.

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