30% reduction in alcohol-related harm would save Exchequer €1 billion

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, is calling the Government to implement Budget measures that could earn the Exchequer up to €182 million in additional revenue and help reduce the estimated €3.7 billion* in avoidable costs caused by alcohol-related harm each year.

In its Pre-Budget Submission, Alcohol Action Ireland asks the Government to:

  • Restore excise duty to 2009 levels which could earn the Exchequer €182m in additional revenue and off-set the significant revenue losses from last year’s excise duty cut
  • Introduce minimum floor price for alcohol

Alcohol Action Ireland Director Fiona Ryan said: “At a time when we need to do more with less, we cannot afford the current price of cheap alcohol. Alcohol-related harm costs us an estimated €3.7 billion* each year – which works out at a bill of €3,318 for every tax payer in the country.

“Our health services spend €1.2 billion each year – about 10 per cent of the current health budget – treating alcohol-related illnesses and accidents, while alcohol-related crime and public order costs us a further €1.2billion*.

“According to the Chief Medical Officer of Ireland, a 30 per cent reduction in alcohol-related harm would result in a cost saving to the Exchequer of €1 billion.”

Ms Ryan added: “The World Health Organisation puts alcohol as the third highest risk factor for death and disability in developed countries and states that price and availability of alcohol are the two key policy areas to tackle if Governments want to be effective in reducing alcohol-related harm. Alcohol Action Ireland is asking the Government to consider this fact in Budget 2011.

“As a country, we’re being asked to make very tough budget choices that will shape our country for years to come – yet alcohol and its cost to the economy does not seem to be on the agenda. Last year, the Government cut excise duty on alcohol potentially depriving the country of €182 million in much needed tax revenue.  

“Remarkably, over the past 15 years there have only been three increases in excise duty on alcohol. These included cider (2001), spirits (2002) and wine (October 2008), with the last excise duty increase on beer as far back as 1994.

“Meanwhile, alcohol has become more than 50 per cent more affordable in Ireland than it was fifteen years ago. It is now possible for a woman to reach her weekly low risk drinking limit for €6.30 and a man for under €10. We are all paying a high price for cheap alcohol.

“Between 1995 and 2004**, the number of patients admitted to our hospitals with liver-related conditions increased by 147 per cent, while alcohol-related deaths almost doubled.

“Today, alcohol is responsible for 100 deaths per month, 2,000 beds occupied every night in hospitals around the country, 30 per cent of emergency department attendances and 7 per cent of GP consultations.

“Alcohol Action Ireland is urging the Government to support these proposals, as a restoration of alcohol excise duty to 2009 levels and the introduction of minimum pricing will each contribute significantly to reducing the damage and costs of alcohol-related harms.”


Notes to the Editor:

View Alcohol Action Ireland’s full Pre Budget Submission 2011 and the case for minimum pricing  

* Figures according to HSE commissioned report

-Alcohol is the third leading cause of death and disability in developed countries, after   tobacco and high blood pressure, World Health Organisation, 2002 (The World Health Report 2002: Reducing Risks and Promoting Healthy Lifestyle)

-The RAND report commissioned by the European Commission’s Department of Health (DG SANCO) found that Ireland was one of six countries in the EU where alcohol had become over 50% more affordable than it was in 1996

– According to the Health Research Board’s 2007 report Health-related Consequences of Problem Alcohol Use, **between 1995 and 2004, the latest available statistics:

  • the discharge diagnoses of alcohol-related liver conditions increased by 147%
  • alcohol-related mortality almost doubled


For further information or comment contact:
  Alcohol Action Ireland Communications Officer: Cathy Gray (01) 878 0610/ 087 995 0186