A minimum floor price on booze would curb alcohol-related harm in WA, health experts argue
A MINIMUM floor price on alcohol would be one of the best ways to curb alcohol-related harm, according to health experts, as pressure ramps up on the State Government to introduce the measure.
In a submission to the National Alcohol Strategy, the Primary Health Network called for strategies such as a national alcohol tax and minimum pricing for every standard drink to be given high priority.
Health Minister Roger Cook made a strong case for a floor price last September when he said “we simply cannot stand by and watch some of the most vulnerable people in our society be consumed by cheap alcohol”.
He also said retailers such as Aldi selling wine for as low as $2.78 a bottle represented a significant public health threat.
The issue was high on the agenda at the WA Government’s Preventative Health Summit in March, with groups including Cancer Council WA, the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth and Curtin University’s National Drug Research Institute all calling for it to be given the green light.
But there has been no news on any government action since and there doesn’t appear to be any in the short term.
This week, Mr Cook told The Sunday Times the Government was keen for community discussion to continue and would closely monitor the Northern Territory’s introduction of a minimum floor of $1.30 per standard drink, which comes into effect in October.
The NT will be the first Australian jurisdiction to put in a floor price.
WA Primary Health Alliance chief executive Learne Durrington said the strongest and most consistent evidence for reducing alcohol-related harm was to reduce the availability of alcohol.
“This includes a minimum floor price, which is highly effective in reducing harm in young people and heavy drinkers, but it isn’t the whole solution,” she said. “We also need to raise awareness of what at-risk drinking looks like and change attitudes towards alcohol consumption.”
Cancer Council WA’s Terry Slevin has previously urged the Government to consider a $1.50 floor price.
Professor Tanya Chikritzhs, from the National Drug Research Institute, told the summit in March that “a minimum price increases the price of the cheapest beverages which attract the heaviest drinkers who prefer to spend less per drink, with minimal impact on the majority of the population”.
She did not believe a floor price would target low-income earners even though harmful drinkers were more likely to purchase cheap alcohol.
“Evidence shows that a 10 per cent increase in price has led to a 5 per cent decrease in consumption, which is followed by a reduction in alcohol-related injuries and illness,” she said.
Julia Stafford, from the McCusker centre, said young people were particularly sensitive to the price of alcohol and a floor price would likely lead to changes in risky behaviour.