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Welsh Conservatives call for review of minimum alcohol pricing after links to drug deaths

01 Aug 2022 3 minute read
Photo by Lolie Smith is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

The Welsh Conservatives have called for a review of minimum alcohol pricing in Wales following reports in Scotland that the policy is driving people to street drugs, linked to hundreds of deaths.

Leading addiction group, the Scottish Drugs Forum believes some young people have switched to cheap drugs because of the increased cost of alcohol.

David Liddell, its chief executive, told the Sunday Times: “Some young people who may have been likely to drink cheap ciders seem to now be using so-called street Valium.

“Our concern is that using street drugs is inherently dangerous and if people are using these and alcohol in combination, the risk is raised again.”

Negative effects

Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said: “The increasing number of stories about the negative effects of minimum unit alcohol pricing proves that Labour was wrong to ignore the laws of unintended consequences when they passed it in Wales despite our calls to prevent this very thing from happening.

“We know just how destructive drugs can be, so to see these experts in Scotland linking the MUP to increased drug-use and deaths demonstrates a wild disregard from both the SNP and Labour to the flaws of their own policies because it was unhelpful to highlight them.

“We asked for a sunset clause to be placed into the MUP Bill to bring the law to an end should it fail. It is increasingly looking like the MUP is fast becoming a case study in how to make bad law – a manual of which Labour is the sole author.

“Given the increasing escalation of concerns about the MUP, I will be asking the Labour Government to review the MUP to evaluate just how damaging it is. Maybe then it will start making good law rather than copying Nicola Sturgeon’s toxic playbook.”


Figures released last week revealed 1,330 people died from overdoses in Scotland in 2021, with almost 70% of those linked with benzodiazepines or “benzos”, which sell for as little as 20p a pill.

Benzos, sometimes known as street Valium, were linked to 191 deaths in 2015 but were a factor in  918 fatalities last year, an increase of over £380%

Public Health Scotland said last month that the increased price had also seen people sacrificing health and eating to pay for alcohol.

The Welsh Government introduced minimum alcohol pricing in 2020, two years after it was launched in Scotland.

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Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 year ago

So what to do about the rise in alcohol related deaths then? I think rather than doing nothing as there may be a possible rise in drug use – both areas need to be tackled head on. Easier said than done I know but what other option is there?

1 year ago

Surely the Conservatives (in Westminster) should get a grip on drug dealers and not try and hide the problem with cheap alcohol.

Unless the Conservatives (in Westminster) can’t successfully manage their policing responsibilities. The police are spending too much time targeting democratic protestors to protect the Conservative government that protecting communities. If they have admitted defeat in the ‘war on drugs’ perhaps they should devolve policing as recommended by the Silk Commission.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul
1 year ago

Did anyone involved with social problems at any level expect increased unit pricing alone to rectify all those problems ? Of course not. There is a need to tackle the entire spectrum of addictions and their causes which vary from case to case. Adopting a “one cause, one problem” approach will not be productive. Police have to more diligent in tackling the seriously deadly drugs now being peddled across the country while there is an evident need for remedies and support for those being salvaged from their addictions .

1 year ago

Will the Welsh Hypocrites, I mean Conservatives, be calling for this in England too?

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