'Law will hit harmful drinkers'.
Byline: Mark Smith Health correspondent email@example.com
ALAW banning the sale of cheap alcohol will have the greatest impact on hazardous and harmful drinkers.
That's according to new research commissioned by the Welsh Government which found that the introduction of a minimum unit price (MUP) would have very little effect on moderate drinkers.
In October the Welsh Government unveiled a new Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill designed to tackle the health impacts of excessive alcohol consumption.
The law aims to bring in a minimum price per unit - possibly 50p - in a bid to reduce the health effects of excessive drinking.
The Sheffield Alcohol Research Group at the University of Sheffield was commissioned by the Welsh Government in June 2017 to update the 2014 model-based appraisal of the likely impact of a range of minimum unit pricing policies in Wales. The research shows that harmful drinkers purchase almost half (46%) of their alcohol for less than 50p per unit.
In contrast, moderate drinkers purchase less than a quarter (22%) of their alcohol at that price.
Researchers estimated that moderate drinkers would only spend PS8.30 extra per year under a 50p minimum unit price (MUP).
They concluded that a 50p MUP is estimated to avoid 66 deaths and 1,281 hospital admissions per year in Wales.
And while less than 1% of pubs and restaurants in Wales sold alcohol below the 50p MUP threshold, a "significant proportion" of off-trade (off-licences) alcohol is (46%), and overall 37% of all units drunk are bought for less than 50p.
Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said: "This research is further evidence that there is a very clear and direct link between levels of excessive drinking and the availability of cheap alcohol.
"The introduction of a minimum unit price will have a clear impact on those who drink harmful and hazardous levels of cheap, strong alcohol. It is also expected to make an important contribution to addressing health inequalities by improving the health outcomes of hazardous and harmful drinkers living in the most deprived areas of Wales.
"All alcohol-attributable deaths are avoidable deaths - so by introducing this measure, we will save lives."
But Christopher Snowdon, the director of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, claimed MUP could spell disaster for the heaviest drinkers.
He claims the poorest alcoholics could switch from strong beer and cider to illicit alcohol, methylated spirits and formerly legal highs.
Writing in Spectator Health, he said: "Advocates of minimum pricing might hope that their policy will put an end to alcoholism and street drinking, but the reality-based community knows that isn't going to happen.
"The question is, what will the heaviest drinkers turn to? With every unit of alcohol costing the same amount at the bottom end of the market, I suspect that Scotland [and Wales] will see a big fall in the sale of strong beer and cider, to be replaced with spirits, illicit alcohol and - for the very poorest alcoholics - methylated spirits.
"Others may turn to drugs such as Spice, the formerly legal high that is currently ravaging the homeless community."
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|Publication:||Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)|
|Date:||Nov 29, 2017|
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