The majority of adults consume beer in moderation. Instances of alcohol misuse are best addressed through targeted initiatives. Increasing the price of all alcohol will not reduce irresponsible consumption, and will unfairly impact on moderate consumers.
Does increasing the price of alcohol reduce harmful consumption?
Increasing price is not an effective policy measure to reduce irresponsible consumption of alcohol. Research shows that increasing price will only impact those who drink moderately, while having little or no impact upon problem drinkers. Problem drinkers are much less sensitive to price. Drinking at harmful levels will continue despite price increases.
A minimum price on alcohol would impact the majority of adults who drink in moderation and have little effect on people who may consume at harmful levels.
While some studies show that pricing increases result in a reduction in total alcohol consumption, it is important to note that this does not reflect any reduction in alcohol misuse.
What is minimum pricing?
Government setting a minimum price of alcohol is a form of price control on all alcohol products at the point of sale, whereby retailers cannot sell any form of alcohol below a threshold level, for example a dollar amount per standard drink.
There are few examples of minimum pricing being adopted and very few studies undertaken to evaluate the effectiveness of minimum pricing in reducing harm from irresponsible consumption.
Is minimum pricing an efficient policy mechanism?
As a price lever to reduce the consumption of alcohol, minimum pricing does not benefit the public.
A minimum price interferes with the free market, creating cartel-like pricing regimes that have a negative economic impact upon the overwhelming majority of moderate drinkers, particularly those in the lowest income bracket, while having little or no impact on those consuming at harmful levels.
Addressing misuse through targeted interventions
The Brewers Association believes that harmful consumption of alcohol can be best reduced through targeted interventions. Alcohol policy should be concentrated at educating and targeting high-risk drinkers, not reducing the per-capita consumption of alcohol.