Minimum alcohol price could save lives of 50,000 binge-drinking pensioners
Those aged 65 and over are more likely to drink every dayAround a third of older drinkers are thought to develop a drinking habit later in life
13:16 GMT, 7 September 2012
The lives of 50,000 pensioners could be saved over the next decade if a minimum alcohol price was rolled out in England, say researchers.
A study from Sheffield University found that setting a minimum price for alcohol at 50p a unit, would have a dramatic effect on the health of older adults.
They produced the estimate for BBC's Panorama, which was investigating the impact of heavy drinking among over-65s.
Heading for a fall Those aged 65 and over are more likely to drink every day
Those aged 65 and over are more likely to drink every day, drink at home and drink alone than any other age group.
It is believed that 1.4m older people in Britain are drinking too much, with the number of pensioner hospital admissions soaring by 62 per cent over the last five years.
In 2011 there were more
admissions to hospitals in England of over-65s for alcohol-related problems than in the 16 to 24-year-old category.
Sarah Wadd, director of substance misuse
and ageing research at the University of Bedfordshire, said: 'We might
be on a cusp of an epidemic of people drinking problematically in old
Around a third of older drinkers are thought to develop a drinking habit later in life.
However, numbers could be drastically reduced if England applied the minimum price planned for Scotland, according to Sheffield University statisticians. They estimated a 50p minimum price per alcohol unit would have the largest impact on heavy drinkers preventing 50,000 alcohol-related deaths.
The Scottish Government plans will see a standard bottle
of wine at 12.5% volume set at a minimum of 4.69 in Scotland, compared
to 2.99 for the cheapest bottle of plonk in England. The price of a can of strong cider will rise from 45p to at least 1.17.
Scottish Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, said: 'Cheap alcohol comes at a price and now
is the time to tackle the toll that Scotland's unhealthy relationship
with alcohol is taking on our society.'
She added that responsible drinkers shouldn't see much impact from minimum pricing.
In March this year, the government proposed a minimum price of around 40p per unit of alcohol in England and Wales. However, the plan could face a court challenge from the drinks industry.
Panorama: Old, Drunk and Disorderly is on BBC One, 10 September