Minimum Alcohol Prices: Does Cheap Booze Mean Fewer Alcohol Deaths?

Which Countries Have The Most Expensive Booze?

Health experts, politicians, drink manufacturers and campaigners disagree wildly over minimum alcohol prices. Does it make a different to public health, alcoholism and does it reduce the likelihood of vomiting in the gutter on a Saturday night?

The arguments for a minimum price have won over Theresa May and the coalition - who are to introduce a minimum alcohol price of 45p per unit, aiming to reduce more than a million crimes and 1.2 million hospital admissions were linked to alcohol last year.

Very few nations have taken up the same initiative, plans to introduce minimum pricing on alcohol in Scotland have been postponed indefinitely by ministers as a result of a growing legal challenge by drinks producers.

And the minimum price has been mooted in Australia and New Zealand but never implemented.

Some Canadian provinces have minimum prices for beer, wine and spirits

British Columbia, in Canada, is one of a handful of places in the world that sets minimum prices for the sale of beers, wines, spirits.

Other countries with a partial government monopoly over control of prices include Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

In the Canadian province, wine is a minimum of £4.50 a litre, beer a minimum of £2.20 a litre, and spirits around £20 a litre, but it does not vary depending on how strong the beer, wine or spirit brand is - and private businesses like liquor stores and bars will need to add extra to those prices to make a profit.

The Centre for Addiction Research at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia found that a 10% increase in minimum prices significantly reduces consumption of spirits and liqueurs by 6.8%, wine by 8.9%, alcoholic fizzy drinks and ciders by 13.9%, beer by 1.5% and total consumption by 3.4%.

The study, headed by Centre director Dr Tim Stockwell, recommended that their should be a single minimum price for alcohol, and made recommendations to the Scottish government.

"This is significant information for policies to prevent the substantial toll of death, injury and illness associated with hazardous alcohol use," Stockwell said in a statement at the time of publication.

"Our results support having a standard minimum price per standard drink for all alcoholic beverages as a cornerstone of alcohol problem prevention."

Norwegian skier Emil Hegle Svendsen drinking a huge beer - but it'll cost him a lot

Chris Auld, a co-author in the study, said in the same statement: "Further research will assess which drinkers and which alcohol-caused harms respond most to minimum prices, yet our initial results suggest minimum pricing effectively reduces drinking.

"Higher minimum prices may also permit lower taxes on higher priced drinks without increasing associated harms."

The countries in the world with the highest prices for a pint of beer don't necessarily have good records on drink deaths, anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related crime.

Norway levies some of the heaviest taxes in the world on alcoholic beverages, particularly on spirits.

In 2009, each Norwegian over the age of 15 years bought on average 6.8 litres of pure alcohol, so it is less than in the UK.

Almost half of this alcohol was in the form of beer, according to the Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research. A pint costs around £6.40.

But the Norwegian Institute for Public Health found alcohol consumption has steadily increased since the 1970s, and increased an of average 20 per cent between 1993 and 200.

New generations drink more alcohol and more often become intoxicated than earlier generations did at the same age.

Inuits reportedly have high incidence of alcohol abuse

The area with the most expensive pint in the world is Greenland, at around £7.35 a pint, according to research by Student Beans.

But alcohol abuse and addiction has long been a severe problem in the country.

According to eastern Arctic newspaper the Nunatsiaq News, the government has frequently introduced short-term bans on alcohol in different communities, or bans on hard spirits.

Quoting a report from 2007, the newspaper said alcohol consumption has dropped dramatically since booze bans were lifted in many communities in 1982. At that time, residents consumed, on average, 22 litres of alcohol each year.

The newspaper said that has since dropped to 13 litres, more than the UK, where people consume an average of 11 litres per year, according to Wikipedia's table of alcohol consumption by country.


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