The Welsh Government is looking to introduce a minimum price for the sale of alcohol across Wales, as part of a wider effort to reduce the effects of excessive drinking.
The Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill has been introduced before the National Assembly for Wales by Welsh public health minister Rebecca Evans.
She said: “Alcohol-related harm is a significant public health problem in Wales. 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.”
Under the legislation, a minimum unit price (MUP) for alcohol supplied in Wales would be introduced and it would be an offence for alcohol to be supplied below this price. A MUP has not yet been decided upon, but 2014 research showed that a 50p MUP would result in 53 fewer deaths and 1,400 fewer hospital admissions in Wales per year, according to Evans.
The Scottish Government has also tried to introduce similar price restricting regulations, but has faced legal challenges by the Scotch Whisky Association. The Supreme Court is expected to give its judgement on the case within weeks.
Dr Frank Atherton, chief medical officer for Wales, said: “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.”