Publican turned AM supports moves to tackle dangerous drinking
Former publican Joyce Watson AM is backing Welsh Government moves to introduce minimum alcohol pricing in Wales.
Mrs Watson, who ran public houses in mid and west Wales before entering politics, said that she has seen the impact of problem drinking, and had also seen the way in which publicans are able to regulate drinking and to support problem drinkers.
Joyce Watson AM said:
“At a time when a leading supermarket is selling cans of beer for 25p*, this move will have a huge beneficial impact across Wales.
“Young people are growing up thinking it is normal to consume large amounts of cheap alcohol, with all the problems that come from that.
“I am convinced that this Bill will also reduce the number of alcohol-related incidents of violence against women.
“Next month we will be campaigning on White Ribbon Day, where men say ‘not in my name’ to violence against women and girls, and I believe there is clear evidence that setting a minimum price for alcohol will benefit not just those who have problems with drink, but also those impacted by their behaviour.
“Wales has a real problem with alcohol-related harm. 463 people died in 2015, and all these deaths were avoidable.
“When I think about the pain and impact each of these deaths will have had on families and on their communities, it is clear to me that we have to take decisive action.”
The Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill, has been introduced before the National Assembly for Wales this week by the Welsh Labour Government.
The Bill will address longstanding and specific health concerns around the effects of excess alcohol consumption, which is estimated to lead to 50,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions a year, costing the Welsh NHS £120m annually. In 2015, there were 463 alcohol-related deaths in Wales.
In 2014, research on the impacts of introducing a 50p minimum unit price** estimated the following:
• a 50p minimum unit price would result in 53 fewer deaths and 1,400 fewer hospital admissions in Wales per year
• a 50p minimum unit price would save the Welsh NHS more than £130m over 20 years, by reducing impacts on health services, such as Accident and Emergency
• it would reduce workplace absence, which is estimated would fall by up to 10,000 days per year.
Over a 20 year period, the introduction of a minimum unit price could contribute £882m to the Welsh economy through the reduction in alcohol-related illness, crime and workplace absence.
The Bill proposes:
• a formula for calculating the applicable minimum price for alcohol using the percentage strength of the alcohol, its volume and the MUP
• powers for Welsh Ministers to make subordinate legislation to specify the minimum unit price
• to establish a local authority-led enforcement regime with powers of entry, powers to bring prosecutions for offences and to issue fixed penalty notices.