WAR is being declared on cheap alcohol and the use of e-cigarettes by a Welsh Government intent on tackling what it sees as major public health risks.
Minimum unit pricing for alcohol and restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes in public places, the latter a UK first, are among radical proposals in a White Paper being launched today by health minister Mark Drakeford.
If the proposals become law, alcohol would cost a minimum 50p a unit, intended to reduce the toll on health from misuse.
Restricting the use of e-cigarettes in public, responds to concerns from health bodies that such products normalise smoking and could undermine the smoking ban.
Another smoking-related proposal is the introduction of a tobacco retailers’ register, requiring businesses to inform authorities if they sell tobacco, with stiffer penalties for selling to under-18s. The White Paper coincides with the seventh anniversary of the smoking ban in Wales.
“Alcohol and tobacco contribute to many life-threatening illnesses and are major causes of persistent inequalities in health,” said Professor Drakeford.
“There is indisputable evidence that the price of alcohol matters. It’s no coincidence that as the affordability of alcohol has increased substantially, so has alcohol-related death and disease. A minimum price will make a strong contribution to preventing alcohol misuse and reducing alcohol-associated illnesses.”
Professor Drakeford said the proposal for e-cigarettes is intended to minimise the risk of a new generation becoming addicted to nicotine.
The White Paper also considers whether to make it an offence to deliver a tobacco product ordered online to someone under 18, even if it was ordered by an adult.
This would operate alongside a new offence in the UK Children and Families Act to protect under-18s from accessing tobacco.
A national register is also proposed requiring businesses and people practising cosmetic piercing, tattooing and other special procedures to improve regulation, and would set standards on cleanliness and hygiene.
Councils would be bound to ensure public toilets are available in communities.
Views are sought through a public consultation that closes on June 24.
The White Paper ‘Listening to you: Your health matters’ is available at wales.gov.uk