The Welsh government has today implemented a new law which sets a minimum price for alcoholic beverages sold in the country, in an effort to tackle “damaging” consumption of “cheap” alcohol.
From 2 March 2020, the new Public Health Minimum Price for Alcohol Wales Act 2018 will require retailers, pubs and any other outlets selling alcohol to charge at least 50p per unit of alcohol, and it will be an offence to sell, supply or authorise the sale or supply of alcohol below the applicable minimum price.
The new legislation sets a formula to determine the minimum pricing, M x S x V, whereby M is the minimum unit price, S is the percentage strength of alcohol and V is the volume of alcohol in litres.
Following this formula, a 7.5% ABV, 3-litre bottle of cider would have a minimum selling price of £11.25 (0.5 x 7.5 x 3), a 12.5% ABV, 75cl bottle of wine would have a minimum selling price of £4.69 (0.5 X 12.5 X 0.75), and a 4.3% ABV, 568ml can of lager would have a minimum selling price of £1.22 (0.5 X 4.3 (%) x 0.568).
The introduction of the legislation follows the start of a similar scheme in Scotland in 2019, which led to a fall in alcohol sales.
According to research from the NHS, the volume of pure alcohol sold per person in Scotland fell 3.6% from 7.4 to 7.1 litres.
Vaughan Gething, health minister in the Welsh government, told the BBC: “It’s not about making alcohol unaffordable, it is addressing the most harmful and damaging alcohol – high-strength, cheap alcohol. We have already seen the impact it will have.
“If we also see a change in behaviour and a real health gain being made that reduces alcohol-related admissions that helps to avoid alcohol-related deaths as well, then I think we will see a change being made across England and… Northern Ireland too.”
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