Alcohol Action Ireland takes what is known as a “public health approach” to alcohol harm. We focus on the implementation of evidence-based public health policies that will deliver the widest benefits to the greatest number of people within the population.
Alcohol consumption in Ireland almost trebled between 1960 and 2001, rising from 4.9 litres of pure alcohol per person aged 15 and over to 14.3 litres. It decreased the years that followed as an increase in excise duty, followed by the recession, impacted on alcohol’s affordability.
However, alcohol consumption has nonetheless remained at very high levels (11.5 litres in 2016) and, as the economy recovers, it has begun to rise again during recent years. Drinking until drunk is also a particular concern, as binge drinking, which is a major driver of alcohol harm, is commonplace in Ireland. Findings from research on alcohol consumption in Ireland show that, among those who drink, the majority are doing so in a harmful manner, with younger drinkers most likely to do so.
Our high levels of alcohol consumption has major public health implications in Ireland, including three deaths every day from alcohol harm. Beyond the serious health consequences, the harmful use of alcohol brings significant social and economic losses to individuals and society at large in Ireland.
The burden of alcohol harm is often experienced by those around the drinker, such as a family member, friend, co-worker or innocent bystander. Alcohol’s harm to others undermines public safety and is experienced in every community, ranging from the nuisance factor, feeling unsafe in public places, drink-driving, to a violent attack by an intoxicated drinker.
There is no doubt that the societal costs of existing levels of alcohol consumption in Ireland far outweigh the employment, trade and tax benefits. Harmful drinking, and particularly binge drinking, carry devastating personal and social consequences, they increase health spending and reduce our standard of living. They are a threat not just to the health of individuals, but to our society and our economy.
We believe that the Government has a pivotal role to play in putting in place policies to reduce alcohol harm, with the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill representing the important first step in this regard. This legislation is designed to tackle Ireland’s harmful relationship with alcohol. It aims to reduce the damage that alcohol causes to individuals, families and society by reducing our alcohol consumption, with a particular focus on protecting children and young people from alcohol harm.
We are aware that what we are striving to achieve will require significant change and that we cannot do that alone. To that end, Alcohol Action Ireland works with a wide range of other stakeholders so that more voices are heard on the issue of alcohol-related harm, whether on a local, regional, national or European level.
Together we can stop the harm.