NORTH-EAST campaigners have urged the Government to raise the proposed minimum price per unit of alcohol from 40p to 50p after research suggests the higher price would be more effective in curbing abuse.

The Government announced last month that it was planning to set a minimum price of 40p per unit of alcohol for England and Wales.

An article published on the British Medical Journal’s website,, last night, said the proposal would have a significant impact on alcohol-related deaths, hospital admissions and consumption, saving more than 1,000 lives a year. The report’s author, John Appleby, chief economist of the Kings Fund, said the 40p minimum price would reduce alcohol-related deaths by 1,149 and would see 38,900 fewer hospital admissions.

It would also cut each person’s alcohol consumption by 2.4 per cent.

But Mr Appleby said a minimum price of 50p – which is something the North-East Alcohol Office, Balance, has been pressing for – would actually more than double the positive effects.

Last night, Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “Today’s article suggests that a minimum unit price of 50p would double the effectiveness of the measure, annually saving more than 2,000 lives and reducing hospital admissions by almost 80,000.

“Importantly, setting the level at 50p was supported by the BMA’s Science Committee earlier this month. We would urge Government to take this evidence very seriously when setting minimum unit price later this year.

“The North-East has the most to gain from the introduction of a minimum unit price, as long as it’s set at the right level. We have the highest rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions in England and high rates of young people drinking. And while we have relatively low crime rates related to alcohol, it is still linked to half of violent crime and domestic abuse.”

Since its launch in 2009, Balance has consistently campaigned for a minimum unit price, producing an annual price report to reveal the pocket money prices at which alcohol is being sold.

Alcohol is available in North-East for as little as 12p per unit of alcohol and a two-litre bottle of cider can be bought for just £1.34.