Alcohol Action Ireland disappointed by latest alcohol consumption data for 2018

Alcohol Action Ireland today (Tues, 12 March) note the data released by Revenue: provisional alcohol clearances and receipts 2018. This data disappointingly indicates that alcohol consumption remains stubbornly high at 11 litres per capita.

Alcohol receipts for the year ended show a 1.78% rise, however when an estimated population data for 2018 is applied (CSO: population >15 years old – 3,848.4m) the figures for consumption as a per capita, stand at 11 litres, indicative of essentially a status quo, year on year.

Within the individual sectoral breakdown, Beer consumption indicates a 2.65% increase and Spirits indicates a further 5.57% increase, year on year, which is of concern.

There has been a 21.4% rise in Spirits consumption over a five-year period, 2014-2018.

This latest data demonstrates, yet again, the long way we, as a nation, have to travel to bring our drinking patterns down within a low-risk approach to alcohol consumption.

Over 1,000 deaths per annum in Ireland are alcohol related and our public health services continue to spend in excess of 12% of its budget 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 optimistic perspective one can bring to this data is perhaps that the message of alcohol related harms is beginning to be understood. However, a one-year stall in an underlying rising trend does not promise too much, when 1.35 million drinkers hold a harmful relationship with alcohol and the alcohol industry continues to spend unhindered over €1 million per week in marketing promotion and sponsorship.

If Ireland’s drinking population were to adopt a low risk recommended approach, we could see consumption patterns fall by near 40% from what we see today.

Last year, the Oireachtas passed the Public Health Alcohol Act, after many years of debate. The Act contains many significant measures to address the reduction of alcohol consumption like Minimum unit price for alcohol products and significant changes to the Content of alcohol advertising criteria. However, without implementation of changes proposed to the regulatory environment we can’t hope to see change in consumption.

We urge the Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, to commence these measures as quickly as possible, so that major advances can be gained in reaching the target of 9.1 litres per capita, that the Act seeks to achieve.




Editor’s Note

Revenue data for 2018 available at:

CSO population projections: