The Wine and Spirits Trade Association has dismissed fresh calls for minimum unit pricing (MUP) in the UK after a new report claimed a floor price would be far more effective than the Government's current policy.

A new study by researchers at Sheffield University, which has previously offered evidence for MUP, suggested that a floor price would be 50 times more effective than the current below-cost ban on alcohol. In May, the UK Government introduced a ban on the sale of alcohol below the cost of duty plus VAT, with the aim of cutting “excessive alcohol consumption” in the country.

The below-cost ban was brought in after a two-year delay, as ministers considered plans for MUP. However, the Government dropped plans for a floor price in July last year

The latest Sheffied University report, published by the BMJ, claimed that a GBP0.45 (US$0.73) per unit floor price would save 624 lives and avoid 23,700 hospital admissions a year. 

Miles Beale, the WSTA's chief executive, said: “Repeated calls for minimum unit pricing ignore the reality that per-capita consumption has fallen 18% in the past 10 years – a far higher drop than was predicted in real terms under minimum unit pricing.

"Rather than punishing responsible drinkers through higher prices, the Government is rightly working in partnership with the industry to continue the good progress being made in tackling alcohol harm.”

In Scotland, the Scottish National Party's efforts to introduce MUP has been referred to the European Court of Justice after a legal challenge by industry groups.