Public health minister Rebecca Evans introduced the Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill which, if passed, will establish a formula, minimum price and enforcement apparatus for controlling cheap drinks.

It is estimated that curbing excessive drinking would save a life a week and would ease the pressure that alcohol consumption places on hospitals, saving the NHS £6.5m a year. It is also claimed that a reduction in workplace absenteeism and crime would follow, boosting the Welsh economy by £44m.

While the potential benefits for the bill are clear, the government is yet to decide what the minimum price-per-unit would be. However, the proposal is based on research by Sheffield University that considered a 50p-a-unit model. This rate would make a typical can of cider at least £1, a bottle of wine at least £4.69 and a litre of vodka more than £20.

In Wales, alcohol sold below 50p per unit makes up 72% of beer sales, 42% of wine sales and 66% for spirits, meaning the potential impact on the producers would be high. Moreover, the Welsh Retail Consortium has voiced concerns that a minimum price would hit poorer, moderate consumers of alcohol “while not necessarily having the desired impact on problem drinkers”. Conversely, Professor Mark Bellis, director of policy, research and international development at Public Health Wales has said that the move would “decrease consumption amongst those drinking at harmful levels” and would “reduce the opportunities for young people to buy alcohol at pocket money prices”.

Despite the political will present, change may not come so easily. Plans to regulate alcohol prices were first proposed in July 2015, but were ultimately shelved due to both the 2016 Welsh assembly election and the move from judges in Scotland to refer similar legislation to the Supreme Court. In Scotland, the Scotch Whisky Association is of the opinion that a minimum price would breach EU competition rules and its subsequent dispute with Holyrood has delayed the introduction of the law for over five years. Nevertheless, since the introduction of the Welsh bill, calls have been made by a wide array of MPs and health care professionals for the legislation to be made UK wide; meaning further action may be yet to come on the issue.