A new law to introduce a minimum price for alcohol in Wales has been approved by the National Assembly for Wales.
The Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill aims to address longstanding concerns around the effects of excess alcohol consumption on public health.
The legislation will curb the availability and affordability of cheap, strong alcohol and introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol sold in Wales.
A public consultation will take place this year to look at what the minimum unit price should be.
Research by Alcohol Concern has found that shoppers in Wales can buy booze for as little as 18p a unit. It cites examples of 3 litres of strong cider for £3.99 (18p a unit), 70cl of fortified wine for £2.99 (27p a unit), and 70cl of vodka or gin for £10 (38p a unit).
It has suggested that if a minimum price per unit of 50p was introduced, the prices of these drinks would “increase substantially” or they would have to be withdrawn from sale.
Vaughan Gething, Welsh health secretary, says: “Last year alone, there were over 500 alcohol-related deaths and nearly 55,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions in Wales, with the direct health care costs attributable to alcohol amounting to an estimated £159 million.
“Wales, like so many other Western countries, has a problem with cheap, strong, readily-available alcohol. This legislation will make an important contribution to addressing this issue.”
The new minimum pricing regime is currently expected to come into force during the summer of 2019.
The Welsh Bill, which was approved on Tuesday, comes in the wake of legislation to curb cheap booze in Scotland that came into force on 1 May.