‘Minimum alcohol pricing – a shameful episode’, writes Fiona Godlee in this week’s British Medical Journal.
‘This time last year public health campaigners and policy makers were confident that a minimum price on a unit of alcohol would be introduced across the United Kingdom.
The evidence for substantial health benefits and cost savings was clear, a public consultation on the level of the price was just closing, Scotland had introduced a minimum unit price (though now under legal challenge by the drinks industry), and the UK prime minister had given his personal commitment that England and Wales would follow suit. Then in July the government announced that the policy had been shelved’.
Why? Why were there ‘dozens of meetings between senior ministers and industry representatives during and after the public consultation’? Was the public consultation ‘a sham’? Why was the government report, commissioned in 2008 (and which contained the evidence that a minimum price would reduce the harms of problem drinking without penalising responsible drinkers on low incomes) embargoed until after Jeremy Browne’s announcement.
Fiona Godlee discusses the politics behind this U-turn and flags up some very interesting findings at: