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Welsh Government publishes minimum alcohol pricing law

A draft bill introduced by deputy health minister Vaughan Gething would create an offence for alcohol to be sold or supplied at less than 50p per unit.

Gething said the measure in the draft Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill, could help save some 50 lives a year by tackling the impact on health and society of excessive drinking.

Local authorities would enforce the minimum unit price, including gaining a power of entry for authorised officers and powers to issue fixed penalty notices. It would also become an offence to obstruct an authorised officer.

Gething said the 50p minimum price would be worth £882m to the Welsh economy over 20 years in savings from less illness, crime and absence from work. The limit would be kept under review if the bill becomes law.

Alcohol misuse in Wales is estimated to cost the NHS around £109m a year in hospital admissions alone. Research commissioned by the Welsh Government estimated that the 50p minimum price would lead to 50 fewer deaths a year and help prevent 1,400 hospital admissions. There were 467 alcohol-related deaths in Wales in 2013.

It also estimated there would be 3,684 fewer offences committed a year and save 10,000 days a year now lost to drink-related absences from work.

Gething said: “Evidence shows that introducing minimum unit price of 50p per unit would be effective in reducing alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harms and the costs associated with those harms. It will save lives, reduce rates of crime, help ensure valuable NHS resources are used wisely and help businesses by reducing absence from the workplace.”

He said the measure was “particularly well-targeted” as it would have little impact on moderate drinkers.

Consultation on the draft Bill will run until 11 December.