Diageo says there is no evidence to link prices with harm

Diageo says there is no evidence to link prices with harm

Diageo continues to reject a link between cheap drinks and alcohol-related harm in the UK.

The Smirnoff distiller's head of corporate social responsibility in the UK, Mark Baird, has this week told a Parliamentary committee that there is no evidence of a link between pricing and alcohol harm.

"There's no evidence that pricing does work," Baird told the House of Lords Science and Technology committee yesterday (19 January). His comments show that the UK drinks industry's biggest producer is sticking to its guns, despite the Government's announcement this week that it will ban drinks sales at 'below tax' prices.

Baird said that the excess consumption in the UK is connected to "patterns of drinking" among particular consumer groups. Overall alcohol consumption in the UK, he said, has been in decline since 2004.

Critics say that the Government's minimum price will be too low to have an impact on most drinks. But, ministers have made a clear decision that price should form a part of the solution to excessive drinking in the UK.

"On balance, the evidence shows that increases in alcohol prices are linked to decreases in harms related to alcohol consumption," the Government said in a review of international studies on drinks pricing, published this week.

However, consumer opinion remains mixed, according to the Government's findings. Surveys completed on behalf of the Government last year found that only one in five drinkers claimed they would drink less alcohol if prices were higher. Focus groups convened by the Government also rejected price increases on drinks.

Yet, a consumer survey for the Government found that almost half of respondents said that they favoured higher prices, with around two thirds agreeing that the country's alcohol consumption was "out of control".