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Minimum Unit Pricing will be enforced in Wales next year

Minimum unit pricing on alcohol will be enforced in Wales from March next year.

(Photo: Strongbow)

MUP will come into force on 2 March 2020, meaning bars and retailers will need to charge a minimum of 50p per unit of alcohol sold, meaning a can of cider would cost at least £1 and a bottle of wine £4.69.

Wales’ health minister Vaughan Gething announced the new date in a statement to members on Tuesday (15 October). The new regulations and timetable are set to be approved by the Welsh Assembly in November.

He said the Assembly will introduce communications campaigns for retailers and the general public in the run-up to implementation, which will “continue to promote the public health aims of the legislation.”

When the bill was put before the Senedd last year, alcohol sold below 50p per unit accounted for 72% of beer sales in Welsh shops and supermarkets, 78% of cider sales, 42% of wine sales and 66% of the spirits

The Welsh government had initially planned to roll out MUP this summer, but the law was stalled after Portugal raised an objection to the proposals under EU rules.

Under the EU rules, any member state can raise a ‘detailed opinion’ on another member states’ policy plans that concern products, which triggers a 3-month halt on the draft legislation, while the member state responds to the objection.

But once Portugal had objected, Gething said a rebuttal was submitted “setting out the Welsh Government’s justification for introducing a MUP policy in Wales and why the Welsh Government remains committed in introducing this legislation.”

He said the government has “worked closely with retailers, the alcohol industry, public health and substance misuse stakeholders” to develop guidance and additional supporting materials about minimum pricing for alcohol.

Scotland became the first country to introduce an MUP of 50p on alcohol on 1 May 2018, six years after the law was first passed, although it is still unclear how much of an impact this has had on the country’s alcohol consumption.

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