Alcohol Action Ireland has responded to a statement issued by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland: Latest Revenue Commissioner Data Shows Alcohol Consumption in Ireland Continues to Fall.
“There was a very slight, but welcome decrease of less than one per cent in our alcohol consumption in 2015. The reason that per capita alcohol consumption is important in a public health context is that it is considered a good indicator of levels of alcohol harm in a country, an issue that this report completely fails to address,” said Conor Cullen, Head of Communications and Advocacy.
“Though our consumption is down from its all-time high of over 14 litres per capita, the trend is not moving steadily downwards and our alcohol consumption remains higher now than in 2013, as this report points out. At our current level of 11 litres, we not only retain very high levels of alcohol consumption, but our culture of binge drinking exacerbates the harm.
“The World Health Organisation found that we have the second highest rate of binge drinking in the world, a pattern of alcohol consumption which is particularly harmful for our physical and mental health, as well as contributing to the many societal problems that alcohol is a major factor in, including crime, suicide, road deaths, and serious issues surrounding child welfare and neglect.
“Most importantly, three people continue to die every day in Ireland due to alcohol and the problems it causes also continue to put an unsustainable burden on our health service, taking up some 1,500 hospital beds every night. If we don’t take steps to address our high levels of alcohol harm then many lives will continue to be lost and many Irish people will continue to suffer.
“The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will 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. Politicians and policy-makers recognise the crucial role of legislation in reducing alcohol harm and we will urge the new government to prioritise health and wellbeing by ensuring its full implementation.”
- The Irish population increased slightly (0.3%) from 2014 to 2015, but there were was a 4.6% reduction in the population of the relatively heavy drinking 20 to 29-year-old age group between 2014 and 2015, according to CSO figures.
- Over a fifth of Irish people do not drink at all (24% according to the Healthy Ireland Survey 2015 and 21% according to the Health Research Board’s National Alcohol Diary Survey), which is not reflected in the per capita figures. So when this is taken into account, those who are drinking are clearly drinking more, on average, than the consumption figures calculated this way indicate.
- The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill is part of a range of measures planned under the Healthy Ireland framework, which will work together to improve our health and wellbeing, both as individuals and as a nation. Its goal is to reduce our per capita alcohol consumption in Ireland to the OECD average of 9.1 litres for every person aged 15 and over by 2020 and to reduce alcohol harm. However, at this level our alcohol consumption would still be well above the global average (6.2 litres), with Europe by far the heaviest drinking region in the world.
- Our current (2015) level of alcohol consumption is a slight decrease from 2014, but an increase from 10.6 litres in 2013. There was a reduction of almost a litre to 10.6 litres in 2013 following on from a substantial excise duty increase. Before that our consumption levels had remained relatively static since 2010. Our alcohol consumption was 11.3 litres in 2009, rising to 11.9 litres in 2010, following an excise duty cut of 20% on all alcohol products, before settling at 11.7 litres during 2011 and 2012.
- Alcohol consumption in Ireland almost trebled over four decades between 1960 (4.9 litres) and 2000 (14.2 litres). Alcohol consumption in Ireland increased by 46% over a 15-year period between 1987 (9.8 litres) and 2001 (14.3 litres) when our consumption reached a record high.