Minimum alcohol price will save lives

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education and La Trobe University’s Centre for Alcohol Policy and Research have urged the Northern Territory Government to introduce a floor-price on alcohol to reduce harm and save lives.

Establishing a minimum unit price of $1.50 per standard drink would result in a dramatic reduction in alcohol-attributable hospitalisations and deaths, according to the report, The price is right: Setting a floor price for alcohol in the Northern Territory.

The minimum price of $1.50 per unit is likely to be supported by retailers, licensed venues and producers of mid-range and premium products as it would generally only effect cheap wine and beer on special.

The floor-price should reduce the consumption of the heaviest drinkers while limiting the impact on those drinking at moderate levels, according to the report.

“There is extraordinarily cheap alcohol available in shops,” said Professor Robin Room of La Trobe University’s Centre for Alcohol Policy and Research.

“Given that the Northern Territory has the highest rates of alcohol consumption and of alcohol-related problems in Australia, it is especially important that the Government there takes notice of this research and imposes a floor-price on alcohol.

“State Governments should also be considering it.”

In the Northern Territory, alcohol is almost twice as affordable as it was 20 years ago, with dangerous per-capita levels of alcohol consumption. According to a report in March, alcohol consumption in the capital city and regional locations of the Northern Territory is almost three times the national average. The number of alcohol-attributable deaths in the Northern Territory is also approximately three times the national average.

Donna Ah Chee, the chair of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, said: “Not only will an alcohol floor-price reduce crime, hospitalisations and hospital emergency department presentations, but will also cut rates of family and domestic violence, increase the safety of women and children, reduce child neglect and improve the wellbeing of all Territorians.”

The price is right: Setting a floor price for alcohol in the Northern Territory is now being reviewed by the Northern Territory Government’s Alcohol Policies and Legislation Review.

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Media contact: Tim Newhouse – t.newhouse@latrobe.edu.au – 03 94792315 / 0416306759

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