It’s been revealed that nearly one-third of alcohol sold in England is consumed by just 4 percent of the population.
The results were released by Public Health England at a parliamentary debate regarding whether there should be a 50-pence (70-cent) minimum price per unit of alcohol in England.
Rosanna O'Connor, director of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco at Public Health England told The Guardian that about 2 million people are drinking more than 30 percent of the alcohol consumed in England, with most of this group purchasing cheap, high-strength booze.
Therefore, introducing a minimum unit price could be a good idea as it would affect those who buy the cheapest alcohol. Making alcohol more expensive would cause some drinkers to think twice before spending their money, which could help people with health issues caused or exacerbated by alcohol.
The new prices would target the cheapest types of alcohol such as cider. At present, a 3-liter (0.7-gallon) bottle can be bought for £3.60 ($5.09), but the proposed pricing would ramp this up to £11 ($15.50).
“The result would be a significant impact on a small group of people. That’s why it’s such a targeted policy for such great health gains,” said O'Connor.
In November last year, it was reported that Scotland would become the first country in the world to introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol. This will begin on May 1, 2018.
After the decision, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon said via Twitter that this was "a bold and necessary move to improve public health". The hope is that it will help tackle Scotland's worrying binge-drinking problem.
According to Alcohol Focus Scotland, in 2016 there were more than 1,265 alcohol-related deaths, a 10 percent increase from 2015.
The pricing legislation was originally passed in Scotland about 5 years ago but was held up due to a challenge from the Scotch Whiskey Association, although fortunately this challenge has been overruled.
However, there are now concerns that the pricing could swiftly cause drinkers to swap their cans for drugs. Dr Michael Colvin, a paediatrician at NHS Forth Valley, told The Herald Scotland that some consumers could be at risk of "addiction transfer", moving from drinking alcohol to abusing drugs.
"I don't think minimum pricing is a bad idea, it's just that I think there are other things going on in the population that might make it appear like a failure,” he said.