Home > No place for cheap alcohol: the potential value of minimum pricing for protecting lives.

World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. (2022) No place for cheap alcohol: the potential value of minimum pricing for protecting lives. Copenhagen: World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.

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The WHO European Region has some of the highest levels of alcohol consumption and correspondingrates of alcohol-related harm in the world. Pricing policies and taxation are among the most effectivemeasures that policy-makers can use to address these harms, but they remain underutilized acrossthe Region. There has been growing interest in recent years in a relatively new form of pricingpolicy to decrease alcohol affordability and consequently consumption – minimum pricing. Thisreport discusses this (‎as yet)‎ not widely used policy and its potential for improving public health andexamines how minimum pricing policies should be applied alongside alcohol taxation measures.It reviews the status of implementation of minimum pricing globally, provides an overview of themost recent evidence behind the policy, addresses its main strengths and limitations and offerspractical considerations for countries.

In the WHO European Region, 11 countries (in the United Kingdom, only in Scotland and Wales) have some form of minimum pricing policies on alcoholic beverages in place (mostly imposed on vodka and other spirits) and only four countries have a MUP on all alcoholic beverages (Armenia, Ireland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom (only in Scotland and Wales)), although in Ukraine the MUP is imposed on spirits only. Currently, Ireland and Slovakia are the only EU countries with minimum pricing policies for alcohol. In line with EU law, any minimum pricing measure adopted by an EU Member State will constitute a technical regulation and the legislation draft must be notified to the European Commission, providing specific supportive arguments. The legislation in question must follow a legitimate public health objective so that it is not dismissed because it has the potential to create barriers to the free movement of goods within the EU. 

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