Report advises against minimum pricing for alcohol

THE time is not right to implement minimum pricing for alcohol in Australia, a review into the concept has found.

A draft report on the subject, compiled by the Australian National Preventative Health Agency, was released on Thursday.

ANPHA, which received 36 submissions to its review, found evidence existed showing minimum pricing had reduced alcohol-related harm in other countries.

But the evidence was limited and would not easily translate to Australia because drinker behaviour varied from country to country.

It also found while evidence existed in Australia to suggest price changes affected drinkers' buying habits, it was not enough to introduce minimum pricing at this stage.

"While the available evidence shows that, in general, binge and heavier drinkers purchase cheaper alcohol than light and moderate drinkers, modelling the full impact of various minimum price points on Australian consumers switching behaviour at a national level is not currently feasible," CEO Louise Sylvan said.

"Further, Australia has private sector alcohol distribution and retail systems, so unlike other countries that have government controlled alcohol distribution systems which are successfully using minimum pricing strategies to reduce harmful alcohol use, a price increase would flow to private sector suppliers and retailers potentially creating 'monopoly rents.

"Our agency advises that this would significantly reduce the possible benefits to Australians of such a policy at a national level."

The agency also identified problems with alcohol taxation laws in Australia called for a "reappraisal".

It also found data for economic and health research required significant improvement in relation to alcohol policy.

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