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26/03/2013

Scientists hit back at drinks industry criticisms of research on minimum pricing

Scientists have today spoken out against criticisms from the drinks industry of research on the effects of minimum pricing.

Writing in an open letter published in the journal Addiction, leading researchers have called to set the record straight on the relationship found between increased minimum prices for alcohol and reductions in alcohol related deaths in Canada.

The letter is written by the authors of a study published last month led by Professor Tim Stockwell, from the Centre for Addictions Research at Victoria University, British Colombia. The study found that a 10% average increase in the minimum price of alcohol was associated with a 32% reduction in wholly alcohol related deaths.

However, organisations representing the global alcohol producers have openly criticized this research, claiming it contains inaccuracies, which could be misleading

Lead author Tim Stockwell said on behalf of the research team:

"There have been some serious misrepresentations of our research and we are glad of the opportunity set the record straight. The new figure released in the journal Addiction today makes the strong negative relationship between minimum alcohol prices and deaths caused by alcohol in British Columbia much clearer."

These industry criticisms form part of a major campaign as the global alcohol producers build opposition to the introduction of minimum unit pricing in the UK. The University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group has faced similar criticisms of its research and recently published a rebuttal to accusations on its website.

Katherine Brown, Director of Policy at the Institute of Alcohol Studies says:

“It is essential that the evidence to support minimum pricing is communicated in a fair and transparent manner. This is a policy that has a broad support base, including doctors, police and emergency services – people who work to mop up the mess caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

“Minimum pricing is a targeted policy that will tackle the problems caused by the cheapest alcohol consumed by harmful and heavy drinkers. There is good evidence to suggest it will make a real difference to the number of alcohol related deaths, crimes and hospital admissions, whilst having little impact on moderate drinkers.”

For more information contact Katherine Brown on 020 7222 4001 kbrown@ias.org.uk

Source: Institute of Alcohol Studies