Media release: Minimum alcohol pricing research 'busting myths'

New research published today sheds light on the effects of minimum alcohol pricing, debunking the industry argument that it penalises all drinkers.

The Public Health Association of Australia says the analysis published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health demonstrates why the measure currently in place in the Northern Territory (NT) is fair and should be adopted in other jurisdictions.

Minimum alcohol pricing, also known as ‘floor pricing’ was introduced in the NT in October 2018, mandating a minimum $1.30 unit price per standard drink. The industry argued that the policy would financially disadvantage all drinkers, not just the heavy drinkers it was designed for.

To test this argument, researchers analysed the drinking habits of 766 Northern Territory survey respondents that were not directly targeted by the policy and calculated their expenditure based on the cost of their beverage of choice before and after the introduction of minimum alcohol pricing.

Dr Nic Taylor, lead author and Research Fellow at National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University, says that the results show there is minimal cost impact on moderate drinkers.

“We found that the average alcohol expenditure for moderate drinkers only went up by a very modest $3.07 per year – a less than one percent increase.

“To put this in perspective, moderate drinkers ended up spending less than 6 cents more on alcohol a week.

“In fact, we found evidence to suggest that the impact of the minimum unit price for some moderate drinkers was so small that everyday alcohol discounts had a greater impact on how much they were paying for alcohol than the introduction of the policy itself.

“What this all demonstrates is that universal policies, like the floor price, can be an effective measure for reducing harm among high-risk groups without disrupting the lives of others.”

Terry Slevin, CEO, Public Health Association of Australia and Adjunct Professor at the National Drug Research Institute says that the research debunks myths used by commercial alcohol interests trying to undermine effective public health policy.

“As the NT approaches the five-year anniversary of the introduction of floor pricing for alcohol, other jurisdictions, including WA, are being encouraged to consider introducing this policy.

“When the cheapest alcohol, often in the form of cask wine, is cheaper than milk or bottled water, then dangerous levels of alcohol consumption are more likely. Frequently those consuming these cheap forms of alcohol are also very price sensitive, meaning less is consumed.

“Evidence shows that minimum alcohol pricing is a very effective way to help deter heavy drinking. Yet, the industry continues to put up arguments to protect the profits it makes from exploiting Australians addicted to alcohol.

“This study provides the evidence for policy-makers to refute commercially-fuelled arguments, and instead continue to promote measures that help protect Australians from alcohol related harm – which can include liver disease, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancers and accidental injury and death.”

Media contacts

Dr Nic Taylor - Lead author and Research Fellow at NDRI, Curtin University
Note: Dr Nic Taylor is based in Melbourne. He is available for interview from 8am Melbourne time
Mobile: 0417 940 713

To arrange media interviews with Nic Taylor or Terry Slevin, contact:

Vic Rechichi, National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth
Mobile: 0414 682 055

Hollie Harwood, Strategic Communications Advisor, Public Health Association of Australia
Mobile: 0400 762 010

Paris Lord, Media and Communications Manager, Public Health Association of Australia
Mobile: 0478 587 917

Notes to Editors

The journal article Estimating the impact of the minimum alcohol price on consumers’ alcohol expenditure in the Northern Territory, Australia can be found here.

Please credit the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

All articles are open access and can be found here.

The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health is a publication of the Public Health Association of Australia.

Posted on: 17 May 2023

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