Where NICE have got it right, is that there is a clear and consistent relationship between the price of alcohol and its level of consumption. Indeed, the effects of price changes on alcohol consumption are more effective than other alcohol policy interventions, such as restricting the number of outlets, or bans on advertising or price promotion. But where NICE have got it wrong, lies in their inability to look at the bigger picture.
The benefit of using duty as an instrument for reducing alcohol consumption is that any additional revenue raised goes to the Treasury; whereas with a minimum unit pricing regime any additional income goes direct to the drinks industry, since manufacturers, suppliers and supermarkets would simply increase prices to meet the proposed minimum unit price.
Henry Featherstone is Head of Policy Exchange’s Health and Social Care Unit.