Government Excise Duty decision “incomprehensible” in light of tax and levy hikes and cuts to essential services

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, today branded the Government’s decision to keep alcohol excise duty at the same slashed levels as last year as “incomprehensible” in the current climate of savage cuts to essential services.

Alcohol Action Ireland Director Fiona Ryan said: “Last year, the Government cut excise duty on alcohol and that resulted in the loss of millions in badly-needed tax revenue for the Exchequer. We are now facing savage cuts to essential services and tax and levy hikes but the price of alcohol, a luxury good, will remain the same.

“We are paying an estimated €3.7 billion* a year in alcohol-related harm. Yet the one initiative which the World Health Organisation says is among the most effective in reducing alcohol-related harm, is the one initiative the Government refuses to actually implement. When are we going to get real about the real costs of alcohol harm to this country?  

“We are paying a high price for alcohol, one that you never see on a till receipt. Alcohol-related harm costs the Health Service an estimated €1.2 billion a year in treating alcohol-related illnesses and accidents. Alcohol-related public order and crime costs the state a further estimated €1.2 billion* while the cost to each individual income tax payer is reckoned to be around €3,318.

“Each night, 2,000 hospital beds are occupied for alcohol-related reasons. One in ten general inpatient hospital costs, 14% of psychiatric hospital costs, 7% of GP costs and 30% of emergency department costs are alcohol-related.   A 30% reduction in alcohol-related harm would result in a cost saving to the Exchequer of €1 billion.”

Irish people currently drink an average of 11.3 litres of pure alcohol a year, which amounts to 458 pints or 119 bottles of wine or 43 bottles of vodka.

Ms Ryan pointed out that alcohol in the off-trade sector, in particular, is very cheap with a woman being able to reach her low-risk weekly drinking limit for €6.30 and a man for under €10. Around half of all alcohol sold in Ireland is sold in off-trade premises, indicating a massive shift towards the purchase of cheaper alcohol.


Notes to the Editor:

View Alcohol Action Ireland’s full Pre Budget Submission 2011 and the case for minimum pricing

* Figures according to HSE commissioned report

For further information or comment contact:
Alcohol Action Ireland Communications Officer: Cathy Gray (01) 878 0610/ 087 995 0186