Economics‎ > ‎Choice‎ > ‎Price controls‎ > ‎

Minimum Alcohol price

What is a minimum alcohol price?

Just the thought of it makes me want to drown my sorrows.
Has the lunatic who came up with this been drinking?


Its a price that retailers may not sell alcohol below. Usually to reduce consumption.

Wider definition

  • If the retailers give something away for free with the alcohol, is that considered in the price?
  • What about happy hours
  • Multi-buy offers
  • Is the price per unit, or by volume, or by alcohol content, or drink type
  • Does the pricing also affect items like cough syrup with alcohol in it.


  • Responsible drinkers on low incomes
  • Pensioners
  • Everyone who is looking for value in their shopping and treat them as a binge-drinker
  • Unfair on businesses that sell goods at low prices, if these company's colluded together to lower prices that would be illegal, but since the Govt. is involved its o.k
  • People who want to live and not just be alive.
  • Large pub chains may think a minimum price would make people come to their pubs as the relative price would be better. But it may reduce peoples funds for their beer budget overall and therefore make their situation worse.
    Just as all supermarket prices being up 50% would not push consumers to buy more restaurant meals.
  • Wages tend to be regional, but a minimum alcohol price will be national, hurting the poorer areas more.
  • Students, pensioners, workers between jobs etc.


Why should responsible drinkers pay more?
Responsible drinkers being unfairly penalised. The health impact is not the governments responsibility.
They're not "health campaigners" - they're control freaks from the temperance lobby.
It is possible to not get drunk AND not buy cheap alcohol you know!

The price of alcohol is not the cause or the solution


  • There was no evidence minimum pricing worked because "alcoholics are not sensitive about the pennies". 
  • You can make alcohol as expensive as you like, it will only force people to starve themselves or their children, to rob & steal or turn to drugs. They are addicts.
  • Meanwhile responsible drinkers are forced to pay more for a legal product.
  • Drinking is not a cause but a symptom.
  • Binge drinking is a social/attitude based issue, and has nothing to do with price
  • Upping the price would simply have punished those who did not deserve it and driven the problem drinkers to crime to fund their drinking.
  • Price will not reform an alcoholic
  • If you make alcohol too expensive then you start getting a lot of home-made appearing. This is even worse as a health policy than cheap booze from a supermarket. There is already a problem with bootleg vodka.
  • Problem with minimum pricing is that it will drive alcoholics who cannot afford their habit to consume unregulated products, like meths, mouthwash, or industrial alcohol.
  • It's not about price, it's about attitudes. 
  • Anyone who wants minimum pricing on alcohol must be drunk!
  • This works o the premise that only the poor buy cheap alcohol and so will out them off, this will have no effect on wealthier drinkers.
  • Insidious way of getting money without addressing the core problem. 
  • Minimum price will not have much effect on goods where the consumer is price sensitive.
  • Scandinavian countries with a much higher price of alcohol still have a high level of binge drinking.
  • Drinkers will move from the more expensive alcohols to the cheaper ones
  • Alcoholics will steal or borrow more to get their fix.
  • Rather than have a minimum price, those who commit crimes or cost the NHS should have their ability to buy alcohol removed. 
  • Will people switch to drugs which have less restrictions on the purchase? (no taxes or age limits)
  • Prohibition doesn't work, so they are trying a mini prohibition by pricing. Why would that work.
  • Ridiculous idea, how about introducing a new law called "drunken and disorderly" and actually enforcing it?


  • Using price to control habits is ridiculous as the HUGE majority are responsible drinkers.
  • I dislike any solutions that punish everyone just to catch the target group. 
  • People are being punished without having committed a crime
  • Last night i was charged £4 - four pounds! for a bottle of Corona in a run of the mill central London pub. What this country needs is a maximum alcohol cost law, not the other way round!
  • Someone wants to sell a legal product to me. I want to buy it. What business is of of the governments to tell us we can not trade?


  • The Government needs to come up with better ideas than simply increasing taxes/prices to solve a problem
  • "Educate - don't Legislate"
  • Tax is for raising money, not for influencing our lives.
  • People can brew their own alcohol
  • A much fairer approach would be to introduce NHS charges for treatments that two doctors certify as being required primarily because of alcohol or drug abuse.
  • People should be fined for drunken behaviour, including assaults, charged for treatment at A&E and charged for travel in booze buses or occupying police cars. They should be forced to attend treatment sessions and fined for consuming alcohol and a check made of any economic and behavioural issues affecting any of their children.
  • Buying alcohol over a border
  • Government should be focusing on more important policies that have a clear benefit.


Why do government think that increasing the price on alcohol will reducing people purchasing it, but not think increasing income tax will reduce people producing/working?

Which one is it are people price sensitive or not?

Whats next, minimum price per calorie?

The minimum level will just be the starting point, after that there will be yearly increases.

How about a minimum price on petrol to reduce road deaths?

The government takes a very dim view of companies price fixing for any reason. However when the government does it that is completely fine.

Real aims

Is this really about peoples health or revenue raising an easy target. Is this supported by pubs, to compete with supermarkets?

What next

  • The minimum price level slowly gets adjusted up, the drinking age slowly gets raised.
  • Think a lot of people are becoming increasingly fed up with these health campaigners trying to influence every part of our lives.

People have given up on trying to change people around them and now try to outsource this to goverment throug the threat of force. Some things are out of the Governements control, which is why prohibition doesn't work. My money, my life, Governments choices



Link183 Minimum alcohol price plans dropped