Wales Follows Scotland And Brings In Minimum Unit Pricing On Alcohol
Scotland was the first nation in the world to introduce minimum unit pricing, to decrease alcohol-related issues across the country. The decision attracted a great deal of interest across the globe, and now Wales is now following suit. The Welsh assembly has announced Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) on alcohol.
From Monday 9th March, Wales imposed minimum unit pricing, stating retailers such as supermarkets, off-licenses and other outlets must charge drinkers no less than 50p per unit.
The change in the law, The Public Health Minimum Price for Alcohol Wales Act 2018, has been brought in to address the harmful, detrimental impact of drinking strong, inexpensive alcohol to excess.
Formula for MUP calculation
The new laws require retailers to use a formula to determine minimum pricing. The decision to introduce MUP in Wales may have been contentious for some. It caused discussion, even controversy, when it was originally proposed. Some were displeased about the thought of the price of booze going up, while others wondered if it would really stop people consuming alcohol.
However, advocates for the change in the law point to how cutting down drinking, especially cheap, high strength alcohol, can have a beneficial effect on your wellbeing.
The Labour-led Welsh Government says it is not a matter of pricing alcohol out of the market or making it too expensive for people to buy. Nor is it about being a killjoy or telling people how to live. Experts feel minimum unit pricing will bring on a change in people’s drinking behaviour for the better. This could lead to an improvement in overall health. They also believe the legislation will lead to a reduction in alcohol related medical problems, hospital admissions, and ultimately fatalities.
Review in 2025
Reportedly, around 500 people in Wales annually lose their lives to conditions linked to alcohol. It also leads to around 60,000 people being hospitalised. This costs the Welsh NHS an estimated £150m every year. It is hoped by adopting minimum unit pricing, Wales can reduce those numbers, by altering the nation’s drinking habits.
The law will be under review again in 2025 but considering Scotland has seen a decline in alcohol sales since it introduced MUP in 2018, the Welsh government is confident it will be a success.
Alcohol awareness groups are now wondering if England and Northern Ireland will follow and bring in minimum unit pricing.