Thousands of lives would be saved if a minimum price for alcohol of 50p a unit were imposed, according to Sheffield University researcher Dr Petra Meier.
She has told a health select committee that this would prevent 3,400 deaths a year and reduce the number of hospital admissions by 98,000.
Dr Meier added that different tax rates for different strengths of alcoholic drinks would boost public health and reduce binge drinking, defined as the consumption of 3,600 units a year.
She said: ‘Moderate drinkers would only pay an extra £12 a year whereas a harmful drinker, because they buy so many more units, would pay an extra £163 a year.’
The minimum price principle is supported by the Campaign for Real Ale. Spokesman Jonathan Mail said:’Such a change would influence consumer behaviour, leading to a greater percentage of alcohol sales being made through well-run licensed premises.’