Welsh Conservatives call for review of minimum alcohol pricing
The Welsh Conservatives have called for a review of Wales’ minimum unit price (MUP) alcohol law.
Citing a recent report from Public Health Scotland, which linked the MUP there to an increase in deaths from cheap street drugs, Welsh Tories say the law is having “a whole host of unintended consequence”.
The report also found minimum pricing in Scotland had led problem drinkers to sacrifice heating and eating to pay for alcohol.
Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS also accused Labour MSs who also stood as Cooperative Party candidates at last year’s Senedd election of “hypocrisy” for supporting the law while the Co-op retailer promotes cheap alcohol in online offers.
More than half of Labour MSs are Cooperative Party representatives, and seven are members of Mark Drakeford’s cabinet, including Economy Minister Vaughan Gething, Education Minister Jeremy Miles, and Deputy Minister for Mental Health Lynne Neagle.
“It has become increasingly clear that Labour’s minimum alcohol price is having a whole host of unintended consequences from pushing people to take drugs and sacrifice heating and eating, all the while failing to fulfil its very purpose to drive down heavy drinking, Mr George said.
“We warned the Labour Government at the time that pushing this law through without an expiry date or safeguards could trigger a whole host of negative results, but we were ignored.
“We do not see enough post-legislative scrutiny in the Senedd, and I believe, given the evidence we are seeing from Scotland, that we revisit the law in Wales to test whether it is fit for purpose with a review of the MUP.”
The Scottish report, published in July, 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 as a result of the increased price, people were sacrificing health and eating to pay for alcohol.
Research published in the British Medical Journal in July also revealed that consumption among the 5% of the heaviest drinkers in Scotland had increased after the price control was introduced.
The minimum unit price (MUP) alcohol law was introduced in 2018 in Scotland, two years before it became law in Wales.
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