independent advocate reducing alcohol harm

2019 data on alcohol consumption indicative of a small but encouraging reduction

Alcohol Action Ireland today (Wed, 18 March) note the data released by Revenue: provisional alcohol clearances and receipts 2019. This data indicates that Ireland’s alcohol consumption remains high at 10.78 litres per capita.

Alcohol receipts for the year ended show a 0.05% decline, however when an estimated population data for 2019 is applied (CSO: population >15 years old – 3,912.6m) the figures for consumption, as a per capita, stand at 10.78 litres, indicative of a small but encouraging reduction – 2.13%, year on year.

Within the sectoral receipts’ breakdowns, Wine shows a 1.43% consumption increase, Spirits a further 0.66% increase, year on year, while Beer indicates a 2.0% decrease and Cider a 1.74% reduction.

There has been a 20% rise in Spirits consumption over a five-year period, 2015-2019.

This latest data continues to demonstrate the long way we, as a nation, have to travel to bring our drinking patterns down within a low-risk approach to alcohol consumption:

Ireland’s drinkers consume 68% more than the global average rate of alcohol consumption and some 45% above Ireland’s low risk drinking guidelines*.

Over 2,790 deaths per annum1 in Ireland are alcohol related and our public health services continue to spend in excess of €1.5bn on alcohol related illnesses and incidences. Over 200,000 children continue to live in family circumstances where alcohol is having a negative impact on their development and their lives.

Commenting on this data release, Eunan McKinney, Alcohol Action’s Head of Communications and Advocacy said:

The most encouraging aspect of this data is that perhaps the message of alcohol related harms is beginning to have some modest impact on people’s behaviour. The Public Health Alcohol Act continues to hold many of the key policy instruments to bring real and sustainable reductions. And while some aspects have been advanced, and implemented, many crucial aspects remain stalled such as Minimum Unit Pricing, which as demonstrated in Scotland, has the potential to drive sustainable reductions in consumption. We would hope that a new government will expedite the full implementation of the Act.

With the country battling the Coronavirus pandemic it is important that all the focus of our public health preventative teams are focussed on managing this unprecedented public health crisis. 

We commend our colleagues across all the public health professions for their extraordinary efforts to keep everybody safe at this time of great challenge.



Editor’s Note

How is our per capita alcohol consumption worked out in Ireland?

Alcohol consumption figures for Ireland are calculated on the basis of figures provided by the Office of the Revenue Commissioners and the Central Statistics Office (CSO). The total volume of alcohol consumed, measured in litres of pure alcohol, is based on Revenue’s clearances data. Revenue’s clearances data provides information on the alcohol content of spirits and beer, but not for wine and cider products. Therefore, for wine and cider, estimates of 12.5% and 4.5% ABV are applied to work out the aggregate alcohol content of the products in these categories. These estimates can be considered conservative in the current market.


When the figure of litres of pure alcohol across the categories is totalled using Revenue’s clearances data, this figure is then divided by the population aged 15-years-old and above, as defined by the latest information available from the CSO.


Revenue data for 2019 available at:


CSO population estimates:


Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016