The impact of minimum pricing on low, medium and high income areas of British Columbia

Funding body: Scottish Government

Background: CISUR was commissioned to reanalyse a unique data set we hold on minimum alcohol prices and alcohol-attributable hospital stays in British Columbia. The Scottish government passed legislation in 2012 to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol but has been fighting with alcohol industry groups in the British and European courts for the right to implement this policy. We have contributed evidence that increased minimum prices reduce alcohol-attributable hospital stays and deaths. We were asked to see how this effect varied across regions of the province with low, medium and high income. Opponents of the policy measure, including alcohol industry representatives, have suggested that higher prices for alcohol would have negative effects on people with low income.

Progress to date: Our analysis found that in low-income regions there were substantially greater reductions in alcohol-attributable hospital admissions when minimum prices were increased. We argued that minimum pricing helps to reduce health disparities across income groups. We completed a report for the Scottish government, a conference presentation and published an article in Addiction.