Academy support for new law to introduce minimum price for alcohol in Wales

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The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Wales welcomes the Welsh Government introduction of the Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill, that will introduce a minimum price for the sale of alcohol in Wales as part of wider efforts to reduce the health effects of excessive drinking.

 

The Bill will address longstanding and specific 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.

 

The Bill proposes to introduce a minimum price for alcohol supplied in Wales, and to make it an offence for alcohol to be supplied below that price. The Bill proposes that the level of the minimum unit price (MUP) for this purpose would be specified in regulations made by the Welsh Ministers.

 

Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Wales, Dr Paul Myres said :

 

The link between levels of excessive drinking and the availability of cheap alcohol is clear. We welcome any intervention and decisive action to address affordability of alcohol, as part of wider efforts to tackle alcohol related harm.

Increasing the price of alcohol through the introduction of a minimum unit price can provide an effective and efficient way of reducing excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm.

 

Projections provided by Welsh Government highlight that 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:

 

  • a formula for calculating the applicable minimum price for alcohol using the percentage strength of the alcohol, its volume and the MUP
  • powers for Welsh Ministers to make subordinate legislation to specify the MUP
  • to establish a local authority-led enforcement regime with powers of entry, powers to bring prosecutions for offences and to issue fixed penalty notices.

 

Dr Paul Myres added :

 

The introduction of a minimum unit price of alcohol would result in fewer deaths and fewer hospital admissions in Wales per year, providing vital financial saving for the Welsh NHS and reduce impacts on health services, such as Accident and Emergency.

We recognise the work of the number of organisations committed to reducing the health effects of excessive drinking, and commend the work of the Chief Medical Officers office and the Minister of Public Health in bringing this Bill forward.

It still remains for everyone to be aware of the hazards of drinking alcohol on personal health and wellbeing and on society as a whole. These include absenteeism from work, road and industrial accidents, and violence and upset in public places and in the home. I hope health professionals will continue to use appropriate opportunities to advise people of these hazards as part of promotion and encouragement of healthier lifestyles.

 

 

END

 

Editors Notes

 

About the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Wales

 

  • The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Wales brings together the voices of its member colleges and Faculties for overarching generic issues around healthcare.
  • The Academy’s role is to promote, facilitate and at times, coordinate the work of the Medical Royal Colleges and their Faculties for the benefit of patients and healthcare.
  • For more information contact Ollie John, Operational Manager on 07759 169 268 or oliver.john@aomrc.org.uk

 

Related Article Statistics provided by Welsh Government:

 

In 2014, research on the impacts of introducing a 50p minimum unit price (for example) estimated the following:

 

  • a 50p MUP would result in 53 fewer deaths and 1,400 fewer hospital admissions in Wales per year
  • a 50p MUP would save the Welsh NHS more than £130m over 20 years, by reducing impacts on health services, such as Accident and Emergency
  • it would reduce workplace absence, which is estimated would fall by up to 10,000 days per year.

 

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:

 

  • a formula for calculating the applicable minimum price for alcohol using the percentage strength of the alcohol, its volume and the MUP
  • powers for Welsh Ministers to make subordinate legislation to specify the MUP
  • to establish a local authority-led enforcement regime with powers of entry, powers to bring prosecutions for offences and to issue fixed penalty notices.
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