Influencing alcohol pricing policy





The Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model is a mathematical model that was originally built for the Department of Health in 2008 by the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group (SARG), a world-leading centre in the School of Health and Related Research. Their research examines how policies affect alcohol purchasing, consumption, health, crime and employment-related harms for different population groups.

Many adaptations and updates of the model have since been developed for the National Institute for Care and Excellence, Public Health England, the Scottish, Welsh, Irish and Northern Irish Governments, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. It has also influenced health policy debate in Australia, New Zealand and within the European Union.

Evidence from SARG underpinned the Scottish Government’s Alcohol Minimum Pricing Bill, which was passed in May 2012, paving the way for the introduction of a minimum price of 50 pence per unit in Scotland. A subsequent challenge by the alcohol industry led to a five-year battle through the courts. Finally, an appeal to the UK Supreme Court (2016–17), citing Sheffield evidence, resulted in the dismissal of the case. Scotland subsequently introduced a minimum unit price on 1 May 2018 – the first country to do so.

One of the most significant wins for public health.”

Professor Petra Meier, Director of SARG, said, “Minimum unit pricing is one of the most significant wins for public health since the smoking ban in public places. It raises the price of the cheap, strong beverages consumed by those who drink heavily, whilst having only very small effects on the consumption and spending of moderate drinkers.”

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