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There is no evidence that a minimum unit price on alcohol as a deterrent against binge drinking would effectively make the poor poorer, an ARC-funded UNSW study has found.
Opponents of a minimum unit price (MUP), or a 'floor price' being imposed on alcohol—which would mandate all alcohol to be sold with a minimum price per standard drink—have argued that not only would a minimum unit price have no effect on people's drinking habits, but it would actually contribute to people drinking more out of despondency about their depleted disposable income.
Dr - Anurag - Sharma - UNSW - School
But Dr. Anurag Sharma of UNSW's School of Public and Community Medicine found that these arguments hold no water.
Using shop scanner data recording alcohol purchases made by 1400 Australian households over a 12-month period, Dr. Sharma and Monash University social scientist Brian Vandenberg estimated how an MUP of $2 per standard drink would affect the bank balances of consumers of alcohol, whether heavy drinkers, light or moderate.
As it turns out, the effect would be negligible.
"The idea behind the minimum unit price is to make alcohol more expensive for people who buy very cheap alcohol that is used to binge drink, like cask wine, which in Australia can cost as little as 30c a standard drink, making it much cheaper than bottled water," Dr. Sharma says.
Cost - Jump - Terms - Percentage - Volumes
"So if this cost was increased to say $1.30, it's a big jump in terms of percentage and if you are drinking it in large volumes, the financial burden is even bigger, which would lead to people reducing their consumption."
Opponents of such a scheme—"mainly the alcohol industry," says Dr. Sharma—argue that it puts more pressure on poorer people because the heavy drinkers that the pricing would likely affect tend to be from a lower social economic background.
Tax - Burden
"So they are seeing this as another tax or another burden...
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