WMA supports Minimum Unit Pricing for Alcohol

(15.10.12) Countries seeking to set a minimum unit price for alcohol have received strong support from the World Medical Association of 102 member national medical associations.

At their annual General Assembly in Bangkok, Thailand, WMA delegates adopted an emergency resolution stating that innovative measures such as setting a minimum unit price for alcohol would reduce average alcohol consumption among both heavy drinkers and young drinkers.

Dr. Vivienne Nathanson, from the British Medical Association, said that legislatures, including Scotland, had either passed a law or were considering passing a law, enabling them to set a minimum price for alcohol. But a number of governments, backed by the alcohol industry particularly within Europe, were opposing the idea. What was at issue here was the right of a state to introduce a public health policy.

The reason that minimum unit price was essential was that countries like the United Kingdom, which had one of the highest tax for alcohol anywhere in the world, had a major problem with alcohol. Increasing tax alone did not work and the minimum unit price was the method for saying that there was a price below which nobody could sell alcohol. This would effectively increase the price of alcohol to make it less affordable and so curb the drive to excessive use.

The resolution declared that evidence from epidemiological and other research demonstrated a clear link between the price of alcohol and levels of consumption.

Full text of Resolution: http://www.wma.net/en/30publications/10policies/a32/index.html