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Wales approves minimum price for alcohol bill

DBR Staff Writer Published 20 June 2018

The National Assembly for Wales has approved a new law which will introduce a minimum price for alcohol in Wales.

The legislation intends to reduce the amount of alcohol being consumed in the form of binge drinking, while reducing the impact on moderate drinkers.

It has received approval from Assembly Members. The new minimum pricing regime is currently anticipated to come into force during the summer of 2019.

Once enacted, the new law will enable Welsh Ministers to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol supplied in Wales.  

It will make it an offence for alcohol to be supplied below a minimum price made up of that minimum unit price, the strength of the alcohol and its volume, particularly targeting cheap, strong alcohol. 

If the ruling is in force, a can of cider could cost up to £1 and a bottle of wine £4.69.  The Welsh government expect that the minimum unit pricing could save at least one life a week and as many as 1400 hospital admissions a year.

Alcohol sold below 50p per unit comprises of 72% of beer sales in Welsh shops and supermarkets, 78% of cider sales, 42% of wine sales and 66% of the spirits, BBC stated.

Drinks with 1.2% of ABV, along with ‘aromatic flavouring essence’ do not come under this law.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said last year alone, there were over 500 alcohol-related deaths and nearly 55,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions in Wales, with the direct health care costs attributable to alcohol amounting to an estimated £159m.

Gething said: “But even more of an issue is the devastation that lies behind these figures. Devastation for families, impacts on communities, and consequences for our NHS staff and support services as they all cope with the aftermath of alcohol-related death and disease, every day.

“This legislation provides us with an opportunity for a step change. It gives us a chance to do more to address alcohol-related harms. And ultimately, it gives us a chance to do more to try to save lives. This legislation takes a sensible, targeted approach to a very real and evident problem in Wales today.”


Image: Bar with wine bottles. Photo Courtesy of Felipe Benoit Photography/Unsplash