Welsh government wants to legislate against cheap booze sales

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23 Oct 2017 --- The Welsh government plans to introduce new laws that enforce a minimum price on alcohol in a bid to cut down on sales of cheap booze. Politicians and health experts believe introducing a minimum unit on alcohol will lead to a reduction in alcohol-related deaths, health problems and therefore save the National Health Service millions down the line. 

The minimum price for alcohol bill is expected to be introduced before the Welsh Assembly today (October 23) by the public health minister, Rebecca Evans.

There have been long-standing concerns about the access and availability of cheap booze and the consequences of excessively drinking strong alcohol. And the Welsh government estimates that there are 50,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions a year, costing the Welsh NHS £120 million (US$158 million) annually.

The proposals would also make it an offense for alcohol to be sold below a specific price tag, yet to be set, which would constrain supermarkets and other retailers. 

The Welsh bill follows a similar proposal in Scotland which was passed in 2012 but has yet to be enforced due to a series of legal challenges which have delayed its introduction. Some claim that is goes against European law. 

The Welsh bill proposes to introduce a minimum price for alcohol and to make it an offense for alcohol to be supplied below that price. The level of the minimum unit price would be specified in regulations made by Welsh Ministers.

The bill puts forward a formula for setting the minimum price which relates to the percentage strength of the alcohol and its volumes and legislation would be put in place to enforce the rules and prosecute those who breach them. 

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