Wales to implement new minimum price bill

24th October, 2017 by Nicola Carruthers

The Welsh government is set to pass a new law to impose a minimum unit price for alcohol in the country, with a 50p charge per unit.

The new law in Wales will see the cost of alcohol pushed by 50p a unit

The Public Health Minimum Price for Alcohol Bill has been introduced before the National Assembly for Wales yesterday (23 October) by the public health minister, Rebecca Evans.

It addresses health concerns around the effects of excess alcohol consumption, which is estimated to lead to 50,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions a year, costing the Welsh NHS £120m annually. In 2015, there were 463 alcohol-related deaths in Wales.

Over a 20-year period, the introduction of a MUP could contribute £882m to the Welsh economy in terms of the reduction in alcohol-related illness, crime and workplace absence.

The bill proposes to introduce a minimum price for alcohol supplied in Wales, and to make it illegal for alcohol to be supplied below that price.

“Alcohol-related harm is a significant public health problem in Wales,” said Evans.

“The 463 alcohol-attributable deaths in 2015 were all avoidable, and each of these deaths would have had a devastating effect on the person’s family and friends. Alcohol-related harm also has a big impact on public services such as the NHS.

“There is a very clear and direct link between levels of excessive drinking and the availability of cheap alcohol. So we need to take decisive action now to address the affordability of alcohol, as part of wider efforts to tackle alcohol related harm.

“The Bill I am unveiling today will tackle excessive alcohol consumption by making it an offence for retailers to sell strong alcohol at low prices. It will make an important contribution to improving health outcomes, by putting prevention and early intervention at the heart of our efforts to reduce alcohol-related harm. This will undoubtedly help save lives.”

Chief medical officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton, added: “As alcohol has become more affordable, consumption has increased. As consumption increases, harm increases. All alcohol-attributable deaths are avoidable deaths, demonstrating the urgency for further preventative action.

“Increasing the price of alcohol through the introduction of a minimum unit price provides us with an effective and efficient way of reducing excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm.

“It will have a small impact on moderate drinkers. The most substantial effects will be experienced by harmful and hazardous drinkers, who are more likely to consume cheaper and higher strength alcohol products.”

In June this year, Wales’s first minister named the legislation among his top five priority bills for the coming year.

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