Alcohol Action Ireland, the independent advocate for reducing alcohol harm, has today (Thursday 28th July) published its Pre-Budget submission in which it advises the Minister for Finance not to further enhance the affordability of alcohol by reducing excise taxes.
Central to its submission, Alcohol Action, advises the Minister on two specific matters:
- The retention of existing excise duties on alcohol products and introduce a Consumer Price/Inflation Index to alcohol excise rates from 2023.
- The introduction of Alcohol Harm levies on all alcohol economic operators to adequately fund coherent alcohol initiatives and programmes.
Alcohol-related inpatient care alone currently costs an estimated €37.5m every week in Ireland; 11% of all current public healthcare expenditure: €1.95bn annually.
The findings from the National Drug and Alcohol Survey 2019/20, highlight that 578,000 people in Ireland have an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) – a prevalence rate of 14.8% in the general adult population.
- 90,000 people with severe Alcohol Use Disorder
- 155,000 people with moderate Alcohol Use Disorder
- 333,000 people with mild Alcohol Use Disorder.
The wider societal cost, inclusive of alcohol related impacts to the social care, criminal justice, productivity and social protection expenditure, as well as the unspoken loss of human creativity, enterprise and potential, is in excess of €3.6bn annually.
The submission outlines how a comprehensive approach must be taken to tackling the impact of alcohol harm through adequate funding to:
- Primary Care mental health services to meet the needs of both children and adults
- Primary Care alcohol use disorders interventions
- Alcohol Treatment services, and
- Resource a dedicated Office for Alcohol Harm Reduction, after undertaking a systematic review of current public spending.
Alcohol Action Ireland proposes that funding this strategic approach to addressing Ireland’s most common drug problem must be placed on the economic operators, who profit from such chronic levels of harms.
Adequate funding could be raised, by levy, on all On and Off Trade sales, and the holders of liquor licences. Recognising the scale of alcohol purchase between the On-Trade (one-third) and Off-Trade (two-thirds), and the enhanced affordability in the Off-Trade, a 1% levy on On-Trade sales and 2% on Off-Trade sales, should be explored.
Equally, mindful of the forthcoming reform of the licensing laws – a recommendation of the Nighttime Economy Taskforce, AAI believe an appropriate revised fee/levy should also be placed on the applicant and holder of any alcohol licence, reflective of the consequential harm and the impact to public health and safety arising from greater availability of alcohol.
Commenting on the submission, Eunan McKinney, AAI Head of Communications, said:
“Our Pre-Budget submission to the Ministers of Finance and Public Expenditure simply highlights the continuing scale of the problem our society has with alcohol harm and the need for an adequate public policy response to address the shocking human loss to our society and our economy from persistent problematic alcohol use.
These outcomes, which play out in our homes and workplaces, on our streets and communities, can be resolved if sufficient purpose and strategic intent is applied.
With the means of funding placed squarely on the economic operators who benefit, adequate public monies can be raised to tackle a significant public health crisis.”
A full copy of the submission is available from the link below: