Introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol will play a major part in reducing the harm caused by excessive alcohol consumption, a senior politician has said.
A debate will take place in Wales today to decide whether or not the Government's Public Health Bill (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) should pass to the next stage. A similar Act was passed in Scotland in 2012, and will come into force later this year. Do you think something similar should be introduced in England?
Health chiefs have long-campaigned for minimum alcohol pricing to be introduced - with a Lords committee last year urging such a scheme to be rolled out nationwide if it was successful in Scotland.
Vaughan Gething, health secretary in Wales, has announced extra investment in substance misuse services - with minimum unit pricing st to be just one of a wider package of measures aimed at reducing the harm caused by alcohol.
The ring-fenced substance misuse funding for health boards will be increased by nearly £1million to more than £18million for 2018/19.
Last year, Welsh Government-commissioned research found that if a 50p minimum unit price was introduced it would be estimated to avoid 66 deaths and 1,281 hospital admissions per year.
Mr Gething said: "Wales, like so many other Western countries, has a problem with cheap, strong, readily available alcohol.
"Minimum unit pricing is not a silver bullet, but it will be a major new and important tool in our approach to reducing alcohol consumption.
"By introducing a minimum price, we can make a difference - as we have done with the smoking ban, which demonstrated our determination to create a different future for the people of Wales.
"I've been very clear that it will not work in isolation. Alcohol policy in Wales requires a variety of approaches which, taken together, can generate change."
The Bill proposes to introduce a minimum price for alcohol supplied in Wales and to make it an offence for alcohol to be supplied below that price. The level would be specified in regulations made by the Welsh ministers,
If passed by the Assembly later this year, the current intention is that a minimum unit price would be introduced 12 months after the Bill's Royal Assent.