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Minimum Unit Pricing for Alcohol Tied to Better Health Outcomes

Findings show decreases in deaths, hospitalizations from alcohol consumption

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 23, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Implementation of minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol has led to significant reductions in deaths and hospitalizations wholly attributable to alcohol consumption, according to a study published online March 20 in The Lancet.

Grant M.A. Wyper, Ph.D., from Public Health Scotland in Glasgow, and colleagues assessed whether implementation of MUP led to reductions in alcohol-attributable deaths and hospitalizations. The analysis included a time series ran from Jan. 1, 2012, to April 30, 2018, and for 32 months after the policy was implemented (until Dec. 31, 2020), with data from England used as a comparator.

The researchers found that MUP in Scotland was associated with a significant 13.4 percent reduction in deaths wholly attributable to alcohol consumption, while hospitalizations wholly attributable to alcohol consumption decreased by 4.1 percent. Significant improvements in chronic outcomes, particularly alcoholic liver disease, drove this effect.

“This work by Wyper and colleagues indicates that the policy has reduced disparities in alcohol related harms by reducing the harms experienced by those in lower socioeconomic groups. Given the disproportionate experience of harm in these groups, this could thus be described as a well-targeted policy,” write the authors of an accompanying editorial. “However, it is also important to ensure that in parallel with such research and policy change that we are also acknowledging, researching, and advocating for policies that address the inequality that causes so much health harms in the first place.”

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