Cynon AM offers welcome to minimum unit alcohol pricing

Local AM Vikki Howells has backed a new Welsh Government Bill aimed at introducing minimum unit pricing for alcohol in Wales.

The proposals are part of a wider package of measures to reduce the harms caused by excessive alcohol consumption in Wales.

Despite the Welsh Government investing almost £50million a year to support people with substance misuse issues, there were in 2015/16 54,000 hospital admissions in Wales attributable to alcohol. In 2016, 504 people died because of alcohol and every one of these of these deaths was preventable.

A survey by Public Health Wales last month revealed public recognition that alcohol misuse makes one of the biggest contributions to poor health and wellbeing in Welsh communities.  It also identified strong support for a preventative approach to public health – this is at the heart of this Bill.

Speaking after the debate on the general principles of the Bill, Vikki Howells AM said:-

“Cheap, strong and readily available alcohol is a problem in Cynon Valley just like in communities across Wales, the UK and much of the western world.

“We know there is a significant amount of evidence from around the world, showing there is a very clear relationship between the price of alcohol and alcohol consumption.

“Whilst there are no easy answers, minimum unit pricing is a new and important tool in our approach to reducing alcohol consumption. It must work side by side with the Welsh Government’s substance misuse strategy which is about helping people develop a healthier relationship with alcohol.

“During the debate on the general principles, I asked the Welsh Government to make sure this does not just become an additional burden on those who can least afford it and tackles problem drinking by more affluent consumers.

“I also called on the Welsh Government to regularly review the way this works if it becomes law, so that it achieves its goals and reduces the harm caused by excessive alcohol”.