People in Wales are 'drinking less' as a result of minimum alcohol pricing

The new minimum alcohol pricing rules were announced by the Welsh Government in November of 2019. Credit: ITV Wales

Six months on from minimum unit pricing being introduced in Wales, a charity has said that people are 'drinking less' as a result.

Minimum Unit Pricing came into force in Wales in March this year and set a baseline price of 50p for every unit (10ml) of pure alcohol sold in any kind of drink.

The measure was introduced by the Welsh Government to reduce harmful drinking in the country by raising the price of strong, cheap drinks consumed by vulnerable drinkers.

Now, over half a year on, Alcohol Change UK has said that one in ten people are drinking less as a result of the change in pricing.

Alcohol Change UK surveyed 1,000 adults in Wales who normally drink alcohol. Credit: PA

A poll conducted by the charity at the beginning of September found that three quarters of people knew about Minimum Unit Pricing.

Of the 1,000 adults surveyed in Wales ,10 per cent said they were drinking less alcohol because of it.

The pricing has changed the price of alcohol in Wales. Before the new rules, a 3-litre bottle of 7.5% ABV cider could be sold for £3.99 – 18p per unit.

Now, it needs to be sold at a minimum of 50p per unit meaning the same bottles cannot be sold for less than £11.25.

Prior to the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing in Wales, the Welsh Government said that there were 60,000 admissions to hospital every year because of alcohol, costing the NHS £159 million.

Whilst recognising that it was not a massive change, Andrew Misell of Alcohol Change UK said that the signs were "encouraging".

There is good evidence that raising the price of cheap alcohol, like strong white ciders, is one of the best ways to get the heaviest drinkers drinking less.

Andrew Misell, Alcohol Change UK

Andrew Misell of Alcohol Change UK continued: "There seems to be much greater awareness of Minimum Unit Pricing, and there are some early indications that it has been reducing alcohol consumption," he continued.

"Big 3-litre and 2.5-litre bottles of strong cider appear to be becoming a thing of the past in Wales as the minimum alcohol pricing makes them too expensive. In their place, we’ve seen 2-litre and 1-litre bottles and 500ml cans.

“The experience of frontline alcohol support workers is that when heavy drinkers have to buy their alcohol in smaller containers like this, it tends to put the brakes on their drinking a bit.

"It slows down the drinking process and creates more pauses at which someone may choose to stop for the day.

"In the same way, it creates more opportunities for support workers to come alongside people, help them take control of their drinking, and start them on their road to recovery.”