Wales has come a step closer to seeing the introduction of minimum prices for alcohol. An expert group has told the Welsh Government that the move would 'reduce harm.' But the industry remains to be convinced. Our Political Editor Adrian Masters reports.
The Welsh Conservatives are supporting moves to introduce minimum alcohol pricing in Wales. That's despite a controversial decision last year by David Cameron to drop a similar plan for England. The Prime Minister feared it would be 'unworkable' and open to legal challenge.
But the party's Shadow Health Minister in the Assembly, Darren Millar, says it can work in Wales.
Health Minister Mark Drakeford has welcomed today's expert report on minimum alcohol pricing which he says adds to the evidence that the move would help cut problem drinking.
And he says it won't have any impact on social drinkers.
Most people whose budgets are tight are sensible drinkers, the drink they buy will already be above the 50p minimum price per unit we propose. The evidence in today's report is that this will not have an impact on people who are living in pretty modest circumstances. It will help us to target people whose drinking has gone beyond that."
Most people whose budgets are tight are sensible drinkers, the drink they buy will already be above the 50p minimum price per unit we propose. The evidence in today's report is that this will not have an impact on people who are living in pretty modest circumstances. It will help us to target people whose drinking has gone beyond that.
The price of a drink could go up in Wales if the Welsh Government takes the advice of experts and put a minimum of 50p a unit on a drink.
Plans to introduce a minimum price for alcohol have been backed by a panel advising ministers on substance misuse.
Experts said the measure would protect vulnerable people, boost public health and improve community life. It could become law in 2015.
The health minister Mark Drakeford says today's report supports the view that a minimum unit pricing of alcohol will help prevent alcohol misuse in Wales.
The Welsh Government first introduced the proposals in a public health White Paper in April which also included a ban on e-cigarettes in public places.
"There is indisputable evidence that the price of alcohol matters. It is no coincidence that as the affordability of alcohol has improved substantially so has alcohol-related death and disease.
“A minimum unit price will make a strong contribution to preventing alcohol overuse and misuse and reducing alcohol-associated illnesses. The panel’s report supports this view. “We will now develop our proposals further with a view to introducing the Public Health Bill in early 2015.”
The Welsh Government should introduce the minimum unit pricing of alcohol, an independent health panel has recommended.
The Welsh Government’s Advisory Panel on Substance Misuse (APoSM)says it would help to address alcohol-related harm among people most affected by hazardous and harmful levels of drinking.
Wales has a higher rate of alcohol-related deaths than England. There were 504 alcohol-related deaths in 2012.
In the last 10 years, alcohol misuse accounted for more than 5,000 deaths in England and Wales.
“Alcohol health and social harm problems are preventable. Expert evidence and research confirms cheaper drinks are favoured by those who drink hazardously or harmfully, and a minimum unit price would have a disproportionate targeting effect on problematic drinking, reducing alcohol problems and achieving health and other benefits for individuals and our communities as a whole."
Last year, the UK Government made a controversial u-turnon the issue due to a 'lack of convincing evidence' that it would have an impact on alcohol consumption.
Wales' Health Minister Mark Drakeford will introduce a White Paper later, setting out a number of new law proposals to tackle some of Wales' major public health challenges.
His proposals include a minimum price for alcohol of 50p per unit, and a restriction on the use of e-cigarettes in public places.
Alcohol and tobacco contribute to many life-threatening illnesses and are major causes of persistent inequalities in health.
There is indisputable evidence that the price of alcohol matters. It's no coincidence that as the affordability of alcohol has increased substantially, so has alcohol-related disease. A minimum unit price will make a strong contribution to preventing alcohol overuse and misuse and reducing alcohol-related illnesses.
I have concerns about the impact of e-cigarettes on the enforcement of Wales' smoking ban. That's why we are proposing restricting their use in enclosed public places.
I am also concerned that their use in enclosed places could normalise smoking behaviour. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, and I want to minimise the risk of a new generation becoming addicted to this drug.
Alcohol Concern in Wales is warning about the dangers of an online drinking craze that could be linked to the deaths of two young men in Northern Ireland.
The craze - called 'NekNominate' - involves young people filming themselves drinking a pint or more of alcohol and then nominating friends on social networking sites to do the same thing.
A Rhondda convenience store has lost its licence to sell alcohol over the Christmas period after allegedly exacerbating underage drinking and anti-social behaviour in the local community.
Turtle Beach Food and Wine Company in Bute Street, Treherbert, appeared before Merthyr Magistrates’ Court to appeal against a decision by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council in May to revoke its licence entirely.
The court decided that management of the store had demonstrated better compliance and they would only lose their licence to sell alcohol for a period of three months.
Magistrates’ made the decision after it was agreed the retailer would continue to profit from socially irresponsible behaviour which was having an adverse impact on the surrounding community. The store owner was ordered to pay £1,000 costs.
South Wales Police Inspector for Rhondda, Nick Picton said, “A well run shop is a real asset to any community, but a badly run shop can be the source of many problems. Turtle Beach Food and Wine Company fuelled anti-social behaviour through their irresponsible sale of alcohol.“
Click here: to read Rhondda Cynon Taf Council's full report.
Alcohol Concern Cymru is launching a campaign to encourage people to give up alcohol for 31 days in January.
It says it aims to raise awareness of what is sensible drinking.
The charity says nine out of ten people in Wales say they drink alcohol and of those a quarter admit drinking above recommended guidelines.