THE Welsh Government plans to introduce legislation to reduce cut-price alcohol sales with the introduction of a minimum unit cost.

The announcement was made as part of the Welsh Government’s legislative priorities for the year ahead set out by First Minister Carwyn Jones this week.

The move has been welcomed by the British Medical Association (BMA) and Royal College of Paediatrics and Children’s Health (RCPCH)

BMA Cymru Wales response to Welsh Government announcement of minimum unit pricing of alcohol

Dr Phil Banfield, Chairman of BMA Cymru Wales Welsh Council, said: “We wholeheartedly welcome Welsh Government’s announcement to introduce legislation making it illegal for alcohol to be sold below a set price, as there is robust evidence that this will help reduce excessive alcohol consumption and misuse.

“BMA Cymru Wales has previously called for such measures; namely to implement a minimum price for alcohol, to ensure that alcohol cannot be sold below cost - in effect making it cheaper than water to purchase.

“Whilst alcohol in moderation forms part of many people's social behaviour, alcohol excess or addiction destroys lives. It is associated with crime, violence and anti-social behaviour, and can impact significantly on family and community life.

“We believe that such a move will save lives through a reduction in alcohol consumption and firmly upholds people’s health as a priority in Wales.”

A study, commissioned by the Welsh Government in 2014, concluded that introducing a 50p minimum unit price for alcohol would be worth £882m to the Welsh economy over the next two decades.

It also claimed the legislation would reduce alcohol-related deaths, hospital admissions and crime levels and bring huge savings to the public purse.

Dr Mair Parry, Officer for Wales at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) added: "13% of fifteen year olds in Wales admit to drinking alcohol once a week and alcohol abuse remains a concern for young people in Wales. Young people between the ages of 15 and 17 years are more likely to binge drink, which is linked with other health risk behaviours such as unprotected or regretted sexual activity, self-harm and thoughts of suicide.”