Senators from different parties tabled, on Thursday, November 23, amendments to the 2024 finance bill proposing to establish in France a minimum unit price for alcohol sold in France.
For them, it is a question of combating excessive alcohol consumption not by increasing taxes, but by establishing a floor price for each unit of alcohol (1 unit of alcohol is equivalent to 10 g of pure alcohol).
This system, which should be discussed in the hemicycle this weekend, would make it possible to target heavy consumers while, according to Public Health France, 30% of adults consume 90% of the alcohol sold in France, with 8% of adults representing They alone account for half of the consumption!
“A price of 50 cents for 10 g of pure alcohol”
This minimum unit price (PMU) is inspired by the “minimum unit pricing” implemented by Scotland in 2018, which succeeded in reducing the consumption of cider by 18% and that of spirits by 4%.
In France, where there are 41,000 deaths per year linked to alcohol, the establishment of this mechanism could reduce mortality due to cancers attributable to alcohol consumption by 22%, estimates the Addictions France association, according to which health spending could be reduced by 237 million euros per year in 2050.
“Economists agree on the effectiveness of a price of 50 cents for 10 g of pure alcohol, excluding inflation,” assures the association. While alcohol has so far been relatively spared from food inflation, a bottle of wine at 12° can no longer be sold below €3.50, and a liter of strong alcohol below 20°. €.
“It’s a bit complicated here, as soon as we target alcohol”
While Scotland has had to overcome the reluctance of whiskey producers, the senators defending the PMU know that they will have to face the very active wine lobby.
In September, the associations were upset by the cancellation by the Ministry of Health of two prevention campaigns against alcoholism, and by the fact that the new Minister of Public Accounts Thomas Cazenave, elected from Bordeaux, had just returned to an increase in taxes on alcohol.
“We are the assembly of the territories, so it’s a little complicated here, as soon as we target alcohol,” recognizes Renaissance senator from Hauts-de-Seine Xavier Iacovelli on Public Senate. However, he promises: “The PMU does not target French wine growers but mainly foreign wines, which arrive in bulk. »
The most affected “low-end wines”
However, French wines could also see their prices increase, particularly in regions like Languedoc, where wine growers have been expressing their dissatisfaction for several weeks with falling prices and rising production costs.
“Only large manufacturers (…) of entry-level wines would see their profits decrease”, assures the Addictions France association for which “prestige and quality wines” will not be affected, unlike “low-end wines », especially those sold in cubes.
“I spoke with the Minister of Health. He really wants to develop the prevention policy,” assures Paris senator Bernard Jomier (a socialist friend) on Public Senate. Saying he “hopes” that the government will follow, he nevertheless presented a fallback amendment asking the executive, before the summer, “a report” on “the overall economic, health and social opportunity of establishing a minimum price per unit of alcohol”.