Lifestyle Economics

Free healthcare, not lack of minimum pricing, exacerbating problem drinking


Press Release

Prof Philip Booth takes a look in a new IEA paper at changes to the state pensions and elderly benefits

Mark Littlewood responds to liver specialists writing in The Lancet

The effects of problem-drinking are not going to be solved by introducing minimum alcohol pricing but by treating people like adults said Mark Littlewood, Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs, responding to liver specialists calling for more regulation in The Lancet.

He said:

“Over-consumption of alcohol in this country has little to do with pricing. It is rife because people are insulated from the consequences of their actions.

“The NHS must be reformed so that people pay for their behaviour in a direct and appropriate way. Free healthcare merely encourages irresponsible behaviour.

“The current system heaps the financial cost of people’s irresponsible behaviour onto those who drink responsibly. Minimum pricing on alcohol and more regulation of the industry would simply punish those people who drink responsibly even further.

“We must treat adults as adults, and accept that this issue is a matter of personal responsibility. It is not for the state to get involved – either in denying people the freedom to decide how much alcohol they wish to consume, or in protecting them from the consequences of their own decisions.”


Notes to editors

To arrange an interview with Mark Littlewood, IEA Director General, please contact Stephanie Lis, Communications Officer, 020 7799 8900, [email protected].

The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems.

The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.