Alcohol Action note today’s (6th March) release from Revenue on the provisional alcohol clearance data for 2017 and welcomes a downward indicator for the nation’s alcohol consumption.
The data for 2016 had demonstrated a 4.8% increase while 2017, using revised population projections from the CSO, would appear to show a positive decline in per capita consumption to 11 litres for every person over 15 years old; a welcome but modest 1.3% reduction. Eleven litres for every person over 15 years old is the equivalent of 41 litres of vodka, 116 bottles of wine or, 445 pints of beer.
Any indicator that demonstrates a reduction in our rate of alcohol consumption is to be welcomed. However, our performance retains notable indicators, as we know Ireland’s 18 – 24 years old remain EU’s leading binge drinkers; sadly 60,000 children this year will be encouraged to become ‘life-time drinkers’, while increased detection rates for cirrhosis of the liver, and other alcohol related illnesses, continue to challenge the scarce resources of our health services.
Speaking on the new figures, Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications and Advocacy said:
‘After many long years of campaigning to raise public awareness of the risk associated with excessive alcohol consumption, Alcohol Action Ireland believe its advocacy is yielding the beginnings of a progressive rethink of the all too pervasive drinking culture in Ireland.
Citizens are coming to understanding that while a social drink can be enjoyable, engagement with alcohol that shifts our frequency above a low-risk behaviour is not without significant risk to one’s health and wellbeing.
Only time will tell whether or not this constitutes a reversal of the upward trend of recent years.’
The Public Health Alcohol Bill remains the key legislative framework that enables society to seriously tackle our ongoing difficulty with alcohol, and to maintain a fresh momentum, that in time, can reduce our alcohol consumption levels to within a low-risk recommended guidelines.
If Ireland’s drinking population were to follow the establish low risk recommended guidelines for alcohol consumption – 11 standard drinks for women and 17 for men – this would induce a 40% reduction in our annual consumption.
While the 2016 census figures indicate an increase in overall population, it is notable that the most significant increase, +19%, among an age cohort, is those older than 65. In Ireland, as we grow older, we tend to drink less, and less, and younger age cohorts sustain their weekly high-risk consumption.
Alcohol Action Ireland March 2018, extracted from Revenue Data: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/statistics/excise/quarterly-alcohol-breakdown.pdf