Minister wants minimum price on alcohol to curb binge drinking

– Åsmund Løvdal contributed to this report

The government are proposing a 45p minimum price per unit of alcohol in a bid to curb binge drinking and reduce alcohol related crime and deaths.


According to the studentbeans.com "University Drinking League", students at the University of Lincoln consume an average of 17.8 alcohol units per week. Photo: Canadian Veggie (via Flickr)

Introducing a 45p minimum price for a unit will only reduce total amount spent on alcoholic drinks in England and Wales by 3%, but the Home Office has said that this could prevent as many as 714 alcohol-related deaths a year.

Home secretary Theresa May has said that she also wants to ban “buy one, get one for free” and other multi-buy offers that boost sales of alcohol. It was also made clear that the proposed minimum price would not affect pubs, restaurants and bars.

Are we to believe the crudest stereotypes? Student life is a never ending bar crawl with a few hours of study thrown in for good measure. But how much do students really drink and will a price hike have an impact on their drinking habits?

According to the “University Drinking League” at studentbeans.com, students at the University of Lincoln consume an average of 17.8 alcohol units per week, ranking them at 46 out of 74.

Statistics from the General Lifestyle Survey conducted in 2010 shows that the average weekly alcohol consumption in Britain is 15.9 units a week for men and 7.6 a week for women. Students at the University of Lincoln drink over the national average with 17.8 units a week.

Student Union Officer for Welfare and Diversity Andrew Twagira says that binge drinking has not been a widespread problem among students in the city: “In such a large crowd, there will always be someone that drinks too much. Nevertheless, our experience is that most students in Lincoln drink within their limits.

“We as a student union do not encourage excessive drinking and we have many students here that don’t feel like drinking much or anything at all due to lifestyle or religious reasons.”

Twagira also discussed the pressure students face when they come to university: “In their first week, freshers are bombarded adverts for cheap alcohol and nightclubs and are subjected to heavy peer-pressure, something that the Student Union does not approve of.

“To have a truly open and inclusive student experience, the social aspect must not be dominated by peer-pressure to drink.”

The government has argued that outlets selling alcohol at extremely low prices, sometimes even with a loss, is encouraging people to engage in excessive drinking before going out. This phenomen is branded “pre-loading” by ministers, but is more commonly known as “pre-drinks” among students.

Ministers have linked pre-loading to rising levels of alcohol-related violence and hospital admissions. Twagira says he has no faith in that a price increase will curb excessive drinking among students: “The dramatic rise in tuition fees did not result in empty universities. Students intending to get drunk will do so even if their wallets suffer.”

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