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Wales to press ahead with alcohol and cigarette regulation

Minimum prices for alcohol and standardised tobacco packaging will go ahead in Wales if ministers have the legal powers required.

Health minister Mark Drakeford said he would press ahead with the plans, which were shelved in England by the Government last month, but it was unclear if the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) had the relevant jurisdiction.

The Scottish Government is also moving ahead to implement the standardised tobacco packing and minimum alcohol pricing.

The BMA has previously pointed out that the Government’s backtrack on setting minimum alcohol prices will cost lives, as a minimum price of 50p would aid the fight against alcohol misuse.

Mr Drakeford said he was exploring whether the WAG has the legal powers to implement the plans: ‘I will work over the summer on the best way to deal with some of these big public health issues and I have asked my officials and the chief medical officer to give me advice on what our powers are and if it is possible for us to move ahead with those.

‘Neither area is straightforward as far as legal powers are concerned, but the Welsh Government continues to explore both as we develop proposals to take forward the public health agenda.’

The WAG’s stance was supported by BMA Wales, although deputy chairman Dr David Bailey told Pulse he thought it unlikely ministers would have the legal powers needed.

He said: ‘There is a problem with the legislative powers. Clearly we would support blank tobacco packages and the minimum price for alcohol, and the Welsh government would like to do that’.

‘But there are issues with the legislative powers. We do support it, but I don’t think they actually can’ Dr Bailey said.

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