Five excise duty myths

  • Post category:News

As well as ignoring the social and economic losses to individuals and society at large caused by harmful drinking, vested interests lobbying for a reduction in excise duty also make a number of claims that are not supported by evidence:

  1. Tourism does not depend on the availability of cheap alcohol and is not impacted negatively by increases in excise duty. Those who claim otherwise have no evidence to support these claims, while during the two most recent years when excise duty increased (2013 and 2014) the number of overseas visitors to Ireland increased by one million, reaching record numbers in the first half of 2015, as Irish tourism continues to go from strength to strength.
  2. Despite claims of increasing ’black market’ trade, figures from Revenue show that there were 550 seizures of illicit alcohol totalling 40,237 litres and worth an estimated €600,000 in 2014, down from 507 seizures of illicit alcohol totalling 55,755 litres and worth an estimated €1.5 million in 2013. Up to June 2015, there has been 282 seizures of illicit alcohol totalling 19,363 litres and worth an estimated €200,000. This is a context where we consumed 39,526,406 litres of pure alcohol in Ireland last year, so even assuming all of the illicit alcohol seized in 2014 comprised spirits and applying an ABV of 40% to it, this amount still represents just 0.04% of the alcohol consumed in Ireland last year.
  3. A reduction in excise duty would not help close the price gap between pubs and the off-trade, particularly supermarkets. Only minimum unit pricing would help achieve this. In fact, as excise duty makes up a greater proportion of the price of alcohol products in the off-trade, it would only serve to widen the gap. While vested interests attempt to portray excise duty as solely responsible for the struggles of the pub sector, the reality is that the recession, the subsequent impact on disposable income, and the shift of drinking culture towards the far cheaper alcohol in the off-trade have had the greatest impact. Excise duty, as a proportion of the pint, remains lower now than it was ten years ago.
  4. An excise duty increase on alcohol in Ireland has no impact on the jobs or the output of the exporting sector.
  5. The view of vested interests on excise duty completely ignores the economic reality that money not spent on alcohol through a reduction in consumption does not simply disappear, but is spent on other goods and services, which they do not directly profit from, but still create employment and contribute to the wider economy.

Read Alcohol Action Ireland’s full Pre Budget Submission