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Polling finds most people support action on alcohol prices

30 Mar 2022

57% of people believe that the NI Assembly should take measures to control the sale of very cheap alcohol. That’s the result of opinion polling carried out on behalf on local health charity, Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke.

“Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol is a highly targeted measure and this poll result is a clear signal to all the candidates and parties standing in the Assembly elections that the public is supportive of measures to tackle ludicrously cheap drink and the problems it causes.”

Commented Neil Johnston, Public Affairs and Policy Manager for NICHS.

“Alcohol is 74% more affordable now than it was 30 years ago, and the availability of alcohol at very low prices is encouraging excessive and, most importantly, harmful consumption among some individuals.”

“Minimum Unit Pricing won’t affect the price of drinks in pubs, restaurants and clubs but it could help save lives and lessen the health damage to thousands of people who drink excessively.”

A study commissioned by the Department of Health in 2008 showed that, even then, the full social costs to the NI economy of alcohol-related harm could have been as high as £900m per year with up to £250m directly borne by the Health sector alone and a further £383m borne by the Justice sector.

“The cost of alcohol abuse in terms of lives lost, poor health and costs imposed on our health and justice system is immense. Minimum Unit Pricing is not a magic bullet and it will not solve something as complex as alcohol abuse – but it will help.”

“It clearly must be part of a broad strategy, but this is a measure that has already been introduced in Scotland, Wales and the Republic. We are behind the curve.

Minister for Health, Robin Swann announced a consultation on Minimum Unit Pricing in February, which closes on 17 May.

“We will be responding to the consultation in due course and we will also be asking all the candidates standing in the elections if they will support introducing MUP should they be elected.”

“Let us not forget that there were 351 alcohol specific deaths in 2020, up from 336 in 2019 and from 284 in 2018. Fast approaching one a day. Each and every one of these deaths is potentially preventable. MUP must mark the start of a campaign to reverse this recent trend.


Part of Cognisense Omnibus poll. Fieldwork carried out in March 2022

Sample size 1003