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Independent expert panel backs Welsh minimum unit pricing move

A report produced by the Advisory Panel on Substance Misuse (APoSM) analysing the evidence around minimum unit pricing has stated its support for the Welsh Government’s plan to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol.

Writing to Mark Drakeford, Wales Minister for Health & Social Services, the panel declared that on the basis of the available evidence, "the introduction of minimum unit pricing would target the most vulnerable groups in our communities and ameliorate the negative impacts of alcohol misuse".

Alcohol misuse accounted for more than 5,000 deaths in England and Wales in each of the last 10 years. Wales – which had 504 alcohol-related deaths in 2012 alone – has a higher rate of alcohol-related deaths than England.

Kyrie James, APoSM chair, said:

"Alcohol health and social harm problems are preventable. Expert evidence and research confirms cheaper drinks are favoured by those who drink hazardously or harmfully, and a minimum unit price would have a disproportionate targeting effect on problematic drinking, reducing alcohol problems and achieving health and other benefits for individuals and our communities as a whole.

The Minister for Health & Social Services Mark Drakeford said:

"There is indisputable evidence that the price of alcohol matters. It is no coincidence that as the affordability of alcohol has improved substantially so has alcohol-related death and disease.

"A minimum unit price will make a strong contribution to preventing alcohol overuse and misuse and reducing alcohol-associated illnesses. The panel's report supports this view.

"We will now develop our proposals further with a view to introducing the Public Health Bill in early 2015."