Health campaigners and local authorities will revive calls for minimum pricing of alcohol next week using new evidence from the same university researchers used by the government to back its original proposals.
The Grocer has learnt that Sheffield University Alcohol Research Group will present new findings on Tuesday, claiming a 45p per unit minimum price would have a bigger impact than previously forecast on the poorest and most vulnerable members of society.
Local authorities will also warn ministers that unless the government revisits the policy they will attempt to go it alone with region-wide minimum pricing policies.
Sheffield will present its findings to two conferences, one held by Alcohol Concern in London and another by North West Employers and Drinkwise in Liverpool.
“Since the government decision not to press ahead with minimum pricing, we have carried out further updates to the research which looks at the potential impact of the policy in further detail,” said Dr Yang Meng, of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.
Drink Wise North West director Hazel Parsons added: “We think this new evidence could be very significant - minimum pricing is still very much a live issue.”
Dominic Harrison, director of public health for Blackburn with Darwen Council, said there was “overwhelming evidence” that raising the price per unit would have a beneficial effect on people’s health. Asked whether councils could forge ahead with the plan on a regional basis, he said: “It’s a discussion that’s underway”.
However, the drinks industry is stepping up its call for legal action to stop local moves to bring in forms of minimum pricing, after the OFT told The Grocer last month it was closely monitoring the situation.