With election excitement gripping the country, Alcohol Action Ireland is calling on all candidates to save lives by making alcohol a top priority in their election campaigns.
So far on the campaign trail, there has been little mention of any evidence-based polices that will reduce alcohol consumption and in turn alcohol-related harm.
Alcohol Action Ireland has asked election candidates to consider initiatives that would save 30 lives a month; reduce overnight hospital admissions by 600 a day and save the exchequer €1 billion a year. All this can be achieved through a 30% reduction in alcohol-related harm – the same level of harm reduction that has been achieved in road safety.
“It is time to stop turning a blind eye to the alcohol problem or accepting it as an inevitability of being Irish. It is time to look at the evidence of how alcohol is really affecting Irish individuals, families and society as a whole. It is time for us to take action.” Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer of Ireland
So what have each of the political parties promised in relation to alcohol-harm reduction in their election campaigns so far?
In reality, the majority of the above measures, if implemented, do not go far enough. Today, alcohol-related harm costs the Irish economy €3.7 billion a year: €1.2 billion in health costs – around 10% of the health budget; €1.2 billion in crime costs; €330million in work place absenteeism and loss of productivity; this amounts to €3,318 for every tax payer per year.
There are real savings to be made not just to the economy but to people’s lives. Behind every statistic is a real person with a real story, the loss of a loved one or the loss of a childhood.
In Ireland, alcohol is responsible for: one death every seven hours; 2,000 hospital beds occupied every night in hospitals around the country; 30% of emergency department attendances; 7% of GP consultations; one in six cases of reported child abuse is alcohol-related. We are asking each of the political parties to remember these facts.
Alcohol Action Ireland is calling for three key actions to reduce alcohol-related harm:
- introduce minimum pricing – a floor price beneath which alcohol cannot be sold
- an end to ‘light touch’ regulation
- restore slashed excise duty levels