The leaders of a UK organisation representing traditional pub and ale enthusiasts have decided to hold an investigation into the effects of minimum alcohol pricing.
The move comes in response to a motion passed at the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) annual conference in Dundee last month calling for the organisation to back the “urgent introduction” of minimum pricing in England, after it was introduced in Scotland last year.
“The national executive are carrying out further investigation into the issue to determine the best way to deliver the decision taken by conference,” a CAMRA spokesperson said. “We are unlikely to have any different updates imminently.”
Alcohol has retailed for more than 50p ($0.66) per 10ml UK unit in Scotland since May last year. Supporters hope it will curtail the drinking of very heavy drinkers who gravitate towards cheap sources of alcohol. In England the price per unit starts at 16p.
The price of beer sold in pubs is unaffected by minimum pricing, typically being more than three times the 50p minimum price. Supporters within CAMRA argue minimum pricing may help counter the decline of British pubs by narrowing the price gap with supermarkets.
Others do not see it this way, saying on social media the pro-minimum price motion panders to “anti-alcohol” forces, threatening to cancel their CAMRA memberships. Some, however, wonder if an appreciation of untainted liberal economics is a necessary part of appreciating traditional beer.
Help may be at hand. An initial evaluation of the short-term economic impact of minimum pricing in Scotland is due later this year. And some insight into its effectiveness in achieving its goal of reducing harmful drinking is expected next year.
The conference also saw the arrival of a new CAMRA chairman, Nik Antona. ■