By Lauren Sydoruk

Three in five Western Australian adults support the WA Government introducing a minimum price on alcohol to prevent the sale of cheap alcohol, a community survey commissioned by the Curtin University-based McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth has found.

The survey of 806 WA adults also found 78 per cent of adults believed more needed to be done to reduce the harm caused by alcohol-related illness, injury and death, and 66 per cent were concerned that the availability of cheap alcohol was harmful to the community.

The survey results are outlined in a new report titled, ‘The case for a minimum (floor) price for alcohol in Western Australia’, released today by the WA Alcohol and Youth Action Coalition.

McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth Executive Officer Julia Stafford said the report highlighted the extent of support from WA health and community organisations, and the public, for the introduction of a minimum alcohol price to reduce the health and social impacts of cheap alcohol in WA.

“Minimum pricing would set a floor price per standard drink below which alcohol cannot be sold. It would only affect the prices of the cheapest products – those that are favoured by the heaviest drinkers, while having minimal effect on light and moderate drinkers,” Ms Stafford said.

“A floor price is now in effect in the Northern Territory, and we encourage the WA Government to be the next to adopt this evidence-based solution to reduce drinking among the heaviest drinkers and ease the burden of alcohol on the state’s ambulances, hospitals, police, and treatment services.

“Young people are particularly sensitive to the price of alcohol and evidence shows young, high-risk drinkers’ drink choices are influenced by price. A floor price would be expected to have important direct benefits for young people through reduced harm, as well as contributing to a safer and healthier community.

“A minimum price policy would cost the Government little to implement, and would make an important contribution to reducing and preventing problems linked to excessive drinking in WA, as well as providing benefits across the community to both drinkers and non-drinkers.”

Cancer Council Western Australia Chief Executive Ashley Reid said the health risks associated with alcohol are irrefutable.

“For three decades, we’ve known alcohol use is a cause of cancer. It’s estimated more than 3,000 cancer cases in Australia each year are alcohol-related,” Mr Reid said.

“Alarmingly, WA adults currently drink at a higher level than the national average. The sobering truth is there’s no safe level of consumption when it comes to cancer risk.

“Cancer Council WA supports a minimum price as one of many steps required to curb excessive drinking and reduce the cancer burden within our most vulnerable communities. There’s strong evidence that a floor price will play a substantial role in a comprehensive approach to prevent short and long-term alcohol-related harm.

“This report follows widespread support for a floor price at the WA Preventive Health Summit in March.”

The WA Alcohol and Youth Action Coalition is an alliance of health and community organisations active across WA that has been formed with the objective of promoting action to reduce harm from alcohol among young people.

For further information on the WA Alcohol and Youth Action Coalition, visit: https://mcaay.org.au/wa-alcohol–youth-action-coalition.aspx