Alcohol Action Ireland pre-budget submission

Alcohol Action Ireland’s pre-budget submission calls for: development of a ‘polluter pays’ model for alcohol taxation, funding for Office for Alcohol Harm Reduction and increased funding for treatment services.  

In its pre-budget submission, published today, AAI sets out the harm that alcohol –  Ireland’s cheapest and most widely available drug – causes and makes a number of recommendations to offset that harm. 

A recently published study in the Lancet found that four industries (tobacco, unhealthy food, fossil fuels, and alcohol) are responsible for at least a third of global deaths per year. AAI’s pre-budget submission is a call to action for this government to invest in human and societal health over commercial industry profit. 

Dr Sheila Gilheany, CEO of AAI said: 

“Four people die every day in Ireland from alcohol, hundreds of thousands of families are severely impacted by alcohol harm, while the economy is held back by billions with the OECD estimating a 1.9% reduction in our GDP annually. Given that alcohol places such a heavy burden on public finance and spending, it is vital that the government uses all of the policy measures at its disposal to reduce alcohol use and employs a ‘polluter pays’ approach to raise the funding necessary to ameliorate the harm caused by alcohol. 

Alcohol excise duties have not been increased in a decade and their value has now been eroded by inflation. We are calling for a 15% increase in them just to restore their value to 2014 levels. In addition, there is a need for a ring-fenced social responsibility levy on the alcohol industry similar to plans for the gambling industry. For example, a levy of 1% on sales in the On-trade, and 2% on Off-Trade would raise approximately €100 million in the first year of operation and should be revised annually in line with the level of harm to the state. 

AAI is also urging the government to address the enormous gap in the provision of treatment services compared with the level of need. Funding must be provided to the HSE to develop its own treatment services that are trauma-informed, holistic and widely available at the time of need. A target of increasing alcohol services by 20% each year for five years should be set – this would have a €20 million annual cost. If we do not create and fund a positive recovery environment yet more deaths from alcohol will occur,” Dr Gilheany said. 

The submission also recommends, given the huge issues around alcohol and the costs associated with its harm, that government establish an Office for Alcohol Harm Reduction within the Department of Health to take the lead across government in developing the policy measures needed to address alcohol harm. Estimated cost €1.5 million annually. 

“The scale of the societal problem around alcohol is such that it now needs a dedicated resource to drive change. In Ireland, addressing alcohol harm is currently spread across a number of government bodies. This spread of resources and the lack of a dedicated staffing complement within one office/unit, dilutes progress for a robust strategic response to reducing Ireland’s alcohol harm burden, now and into the future. It also gives space for vested interests to exploit and to stymie a coherent response.” Dr Gilheany said. 


Mental health issues are very often intertwined with problem alcohol use and AAI strongly supports the call from Mental Health Reform that the Government in this budget finally commits to a long-term funding strategy, bringing the mental health allocation to 10% of the health budget by 2030.  

This was promised in the Programme for Government and must be fulfilled in this budget cycle. 


Full submission available here.  

For all media enquiries and interview requests, please contact:  

Hannah-Alice Loughlin,  

Advocacy and Communications Lead:  

M: 087 995 0186  

Other useful resources: Media guide re non-stigmatising language