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A new law comes into force today setting a minimum price for alcohol in Wales.

First published:
2 March 2020
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

This means alcohol can’t be sold or supplied for less than 50p a unit.

You won’t notice a change in the price of most alcoholic drinks, but high-strength, low-cost products like white cider will be significantly more expensive. 

The policy, introduced through the Welsh Government’s Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Act 2018, aims to reduce hazardous and harmful levels of drinking. 

Around 10 people die every week in Wales from alcohol related causes. Alcohol causes harm to societies as well as individuals, with taxpayers picking up the bill. Every year, alcohol leads to nearly 60,000 hospital admissions in Wales and costs NHS Wales an estimated £159 million. 

Health Minister Vaughan Gething visited an alcohol care team in Newport’s Royal Gwent Hospital which aims to support people admitted to hospital with alcohol misuse disorders. 

He said:

We know when alcohol is cheap and readily available, harmful drinking increases. The minimum price won’t affect moderate drinkers who may be worried about the price of a pint going up. The aim of this legislation is to reduce the harm being done by those most at risk of alcohol abuse.

Dr Sarah Aitken, Director of Public Health for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, said: 

We see the effects of excessive alcohol consumption on people’s health every day. Aside from damaging the liver, alcohol affects the heart, kidneys and brain. It impacts on hospital services, and on people’s lives more generally. The intervention of minimum pricing will reduce the harm done by alcohol, it’s an important step and will hopefully make people think about their relationship with alcohol.

In Scotland, where a minimum price was introduced in May 2018, early indicators are encouraging, with a reduction in the annual volume of pure alcohol in drinks sold, and a fall in the volume of alcohol sold at very low prices.