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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Relationship Between Price Paid for Off-Trade Alcohol, Alcohol Consumption and Income in England: A Cross-Sectional Survey

In order to examine the potential impact of an increase in the minimum price per unit of alcohol to 50 pence ($0.78), we examined drinking patterns and household incomes of people who purchase alcohol in England at above and below this price.

Cross-sectional survey of 515 members of the public in seven towns and cities in the south of England. The primary outcome was whether the participant had purchased alcohol at <50 p/unit. The main exposures were annual household income and alcohol consumption, measured using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C).

The median price paid per unit of alcohol was 53.1 pence (range 16.4–297.0 pence). Those buying alcohol at <50 p/unit had a mean AUDIT-C score of 6.2 compared with 5.5 among those buying alcohol at above this price. The odds ratio (OR) of a person on low income with high-risk drinking purchasing alcohol at <50 p/unit was 1.29 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.82–1.79] compared with all other study participants. The OR of a person on low income with low-risk drinking purchasing alcohol below this price was 0.51 (95% CI = 0.30–0.87) compared with all other participants.

These data suggest that an increase in the minimum price of alcohol to 50 pence price per unit is only likely to disproportionately affect people on low incomes if their alcohol consumption is excessive.

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