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Did minimum unit pricing have an immediate impact in Scotland, and did any evidence emerge to support fears that the policy would unfairly target moderate drinkers, particularly in lower income groups?
HOT TOPIC 2017 HTM file
Controlling alcohol-related crime and disorder
‘Hot topics’ offer background and analysis on important issues which sometimes generate heated debate. Within UK substance use policy alcohol-related violence and disorder has for decades been a high profile concern. For governments mindful of a drinking electorate, the conundrum is how to curb the fallout from drinking without being branded as a nanny-state killjoy.
Unable to draw on evidence from ‘gold standard’ randomised controlled trials, this review used nine criteria to assess the effect of minimum unit pricing – finding on balance that setting a minimum price per unit of alcohol was likely to reduce alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms.
Variations in the implementation of alcohol licensing policies across England presented a natural opportunity to study the impact of discretionary powers. Between 2011 and 2015, local areas with a more ‘hands on’ approach to enforcement saw moderate reductions in alcohol-related hospital admissions and violent and sexual crimes.
Minimum price increases of alcoholic beverages in a Canadian province between 2002 and 2013 set the stage for a real-word study of minimum unit pricing. Reductions in alcohol-related hospital admissions, particularly in lower income areas, tentatively suggest that low income regions may experience the greatest health benefits of such a policy.
STUDY 2016 HTM file
Monitoring and evaluating Scotland’s alcohol strategy: Final annual report
The final report evaluating Scotland’s alcohol strategy concludes that while some evidence-based interventions have been implemented, failure to implement minimum unit pricing is likely to have limited the strategy’s contribution to declines in both alcohol consumption and related harm.
DOCUMENT 2016 HTM file
Modern Crime Prevention Strategy
This new strategy presents a vision for crime prevention in 2016, which includes greater partnership-working between government, the police, business and industry to prevent and tackle drug and alcohol-related crime and disorder, and greater personal responsibility for substance use and recovery.
Whether alcohol tax rises would be an acceptable and effective alternative could determine the legality under EU law of Scotland’s law permitting a minimum unit price for alcohol. This analysis predicts tax rises would curb consumption and save lives, but not without perhaps unacceptably hitting the pockets of non-harmful drinkers.
For the first time, a study in England has shown that the more strongly a local government area regulates the licensing of alcohol outlets, the greater the reduction in alcohol-related harm within the population, as reflected in the number of hospital admissions.
STUDY 2016 HTM file
The Licensing Act (2003): its uses and abuses 10 years on
Seen as excluding health concerns and requiring an individualistic and ‘premises by premises’ approach, interviews with stakeholders and a revisiting of the 2003 Licensing Act for England and Wales suggest it could nevertheless be used to address public health and to implement licensing policies and decisions based on likely overall local impact.
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