Wales politics

Wales' minimum alcohol price to be set at 50p per unit

Drinks cooler in store Image copyright Woodkern/Getty Images
Image caption A minimum unit price for alcohol is being considered as a means of tackling excessive drinking

The minimum price of alcohol in Wales will be set at 50p per unit from next year under Welsh Government plans.

The new regime - aimed at tackling alcohol-related deaths - could come into force in summer 2019.

It would mean a can of cider would cost at least £1 and a bottle of wine £4.69.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said he is seeking views from businesses and individuals before implementing the plans. A 50p minimum unit price is already in force in Scotland.

The assembly passed a law allowing ministers to set a minimum price in June. It will be an offense to sell alcohol any cheaper.

There have been concerns that higher alcohol prices could push some drinkers towards other, more harmful substances.

There were more than 500 alcohol-related deaths and nearly 55,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions in Wales in 2017, the Welsh Government said, with health care costs relating to alcohol amounting to an estimated £159m.

Academics at the University of Sheffield estimated that a minimum unit price of 50p would lead to 66 (8.5%) fewer alcohol-attributable deaths per year and 1,281 (3.6%) fewer alcohol-attributable hospital admissions.

Mr Gething said: "The ultimate objective of introducing a minimum unit price is to tackle alcohol-related harm, including alcohol-attributable hospital admissions and alcohol-related deaths in Wales, by reducing alcohol consumption in hazardous and harmful drinkers."

He said the higher the price, the "greater the proportion of purchased alcohol that is captured and the greater the estimated impact on alcohol-related harms."

But he said: "There is a trade-off as there is also a greater impact on moderate drinkers, particularly moderate drinkers in the more deprived groups."

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