Alcohol study finds a small tax could prevent thousands of admissions to A&E department caused by violent injuries

 
Francesca Washtell
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The burden on emergency departments could be lifted if the UK introduced a further alcohol tax (Source: Getty)

A university research team has proposed a small alcohol tax could cut the number of A&E visits caused by violent injury by more than 6,000 a year.

However, the government has said it is not planning to pursue any further taxes on alcohol.

The Cardiff University team, writing in the journal Injury Prevention, said putting a duty of just one per cent on alcoholic drinks served in restaurants, bars and shops could also be more effective than introducing a minimum price for a unit of alcohol, which some experts have advocated.

It found the tax could raise as much as £1bn for the Treasury each year.

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The study analysed visits to 100 A&E departments in England and Wales over and eight-year period between 1 January 2005 and 31 December 2012.

It found nearly 300,000 visits were made for injuries caused by alcohol-related violence and that around 75 per cent of those treated were men aged 18-30. Monthly injury rates for men were also around three times greater than those for women.

The researchers also found a link between lower alcohol prices in the surrounding area and a higher rate of local emergency department admissions.

Read more: Moderate alcohol drinking not linked to health benefits

"The principal finding of this study is that violence-related emergency department attendances were negatively associated with both on-trade and off-trade alcohol prices in England and Wales, after controlling for the effects of poverty, income inequality, youth spending capacity and seasonality," the researchers said in the paper.

Although a tax was found to be necessary in both the on-trade and off-trade, the researchers said on-trade alcohol prices - which include sales at pubs, bars and restaurants - had a greater impact on violence than off-trade prices - including shops and supermarkets.

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No further tax plans

A Treasury spokesperson told City A.M. it was not planning to pursue any further taxes on alcohol, which, due to its emphasis on lessening a public health burden, could be likened to George Osborne's sugar tax.

"High duty rates penalise responsible drinkers. However, the government recognises the health and social harms associated with problem consumption of alcohol," the spokesperson said.

"This is why we have taken targeted to encourage responsible alcohol consumption. For example, to encourage the consumption and production of lower strength beer, the government has higher duties on super strength beer and cider."

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