independent advocate reducing alcohol harm

Disappointment expressed that government has not taken urgent action needed to address alcohol harm in today’s budget announcements

10/10/23: Alcohol Action Ireland has expressed disappointment that the government has not taken the urgent action needed to address alcohol harm in today’s budget announcements. 

In its prebudget submission, AAI set out a number of proposals to offset the harm that alcohol –  Ireland’s cheapest and most widely available drug – causes. For example:   

  • development of a ‘polluter pays’ model for alcohol taxation  
  • establishment of an Office for Alcohol Harm Reduction  
  • increased funding for treatment services commensurate with the level of need for those impacted by alcohol harm 

AAI CEO Dr Sheila Gilheany said: “Global alcohol giants are making enormous profits from their sales in Ireland while there is a lack of government urgency to address the nearly 1500 deaths annually from Ireland’s cheapest and most widely available drug.  

As set out in the Lancet’s special series on the commercial determinants of health earlier this year, it is up to governments to invest in a world where human and planetary health is always prioritised over profit. Unfortunately, we have not seen any evidence of a response to this call to action. Today the Minister for Finance rightly used a public health imperative to further tax tobacco products, it is deeply disappointing that no such parity applies when it comes to alcohol and public health. This, while evidence increasingly demonstrates that alcohol harms costs more than harms caused by tobacco. We can only surmise that the powerful alcohol lobby still wields significant influence over the political process. 

She continued: “Many of Ireland’s most popular drinks are made by Diageo, whose global operating profits were €5.3 billion (£4.6 billion) last year and whose net sales in Ireland grew by 16%.  In the same year, alcohol cost the state at least €3.7 billion yet excise duties only raised €1.2 billion. Meanwhile four people die every day in Ireland from alcohol, hundreds of thousands of families are severely impacted by alcohol harm, and the economy is held back by billions with the OECD estimating a 1.9% reduction in our annual GDP over the next three decades due to alcohol. 

In the light of such data, it is shocking that yet again this government has yielded to industry demands, left excise duties unchanged for a decade and not introduced some type of levy system on this highly profitable industry to pay for the carnage caused by its products. In doing so the government has ignored the advice from such bodies as the World Health Organisation, the OECD and the Commission on Taxation and Welfare to take a public health approach to alcohol taxation. It is more than time for Ireland to fully address the harms from alcohol by taking a whole of government approach which would put our country’s health and well-being above the demands of a highly rapacious industry.” 

 

 

ENDS  

For media enquiries and interview requests, please contact:  

Dr Sheila Gilheany  

 +353 (0) 86-2600903  

 sheila.gilheany@alcoholactionireland.ie  

Or 

Jennifer Hough  

jennifer.hough@alcoholactionireland.ie  

083 135 9860  

Other useful resources: Media guide re non-stigmatising language