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Scotland increases minimum alcohol price to 65p in bid to curb demand

ݮƵ 2024; 384 doi: (Published 09 February 2024) Cite this as: ݮƵ 2024;384:q352

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Strategic Implementation of Minimum Unit Pricing for Alcohol in India: Navigating Public Health and Socio-Economic Considerations

Dear Editor,

‘Strategic Implementation of Minimum Unit Pricing for Alcohol in India: Navigating Public Health and Socio-Economic Considerations’

The adjustment of the minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol in Scotland from 50p to 65p per unit represents a significant stride in public health policy, aiming to mitigate alcohol-related harm. Highlighted in The ݮƵ [1], this measure emphasizes the importance of pricing strategies in curbing harmful alcohol consumption. With India facing its unique alcohol-related challenges, it becomes imperative to explore the feasibility and potential impact of adopting a similar MUP policy within its complex socio-economic landscape.

Evidence from a systematic review in ݮƵ Open [2] supports MUP's effectiveness in reducing alcohol consumption and its associated harms. This research, adhering to rigorous guidelines, affirms MUP's role as a key public health intervention. Additionally, Public Health Scotland's report [3] indicates a net reduction in alcohol sales post-MUP implementation, showcasing its efficacy.

However, India's alcohol policy landscape, characterized by pronounced socio-economic disparities, demands a tailored approach [4]. Implementing MUP in India requires comprehensive research, stakeholder engagement, and adaptability to regional alcohol use patterns. It is also essential to consider the economic implications for lower-income groups and the alcohol industry, aiming for an equitable distribution of public health benefits.

Drawing on global evidence and Scotland's experience, India is at a crossroads. Adopting MUP, customized to its socio-cultural fabric, could significantly advance its public health goals, serving as a model for other nations. Yet, to ensure a successful implementation, addressing potential counterarguments is crucial. Concerns about the impact on moderate drinkers and the risk of illegal alcohol markets necessitate careful consideration [5]. Strategies to mitigate these risks include targeted public health campaigns and robust enforcement mechanisms.

Furthermore, there is a need for empirical research in the Indian context to assess MUP's potential impact thoroughly. Encouraging dialogue among policymakers, public health experts, and stakeholders to explore innovative, effective, and equitable alcohol policies tailored to India's needs is also paramount.

In conclusion, while the evidence supports MUP's benefits, a nuanced, ethical, and contextually informed approach is essential for India. By considering international experiences and the domestic context, India has the opportunity to develop a balanced public health policy that respects cultural and economic factors while prioritizing the well-being of its populace.

References:
1. Christie B. Scotland increases minimum alcohol price to 65p in bid to curb demand ݮƵ 2024; 384 :q352 doi:10.1136/bmj.q352.
2. Bonner, A., et al. "Evidence for the effectiveness of minimum pricing of alcohol: a systematic review and assessment using the Bradford Hill criteria for causality." ݮƵ Open, vol. 6, no. e011497, 2016. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-011497.
3. Public Health Scotland. "Report highlights the impact of Minimum Unit Pricing on alcohol sales after three years of implementation." Public Health Scotland, 2022. Available from: .
4. Sharma, P., et al. "Alcohol policies in India: A scoping review." PLOS ONE, vol. 16, no. e0251422, 2021. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0251422.
5. K.P., A., & D., S. "The effectiveness and effects of alcohol regulation: evidence from India." IZA Journal of Development and Migration, vol. 11, no. 24, 2021. doi:10.2478/izajodm-2021-0012.

Competing interests: No competing interests

11 February 2024
Om Prakash
Professor of Psychiatry
Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS), New Delhi, INDIA
Geriatric Mental Health Division, Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS), New Delhi