Ireland must follow Scotland’s lead on Minimum Pricing

  • Post category:Newsletter

SCOTLAND last week took a major step towards the introduction of minimum pricing, with the announcement that, from next April, alcohol sold there will cost a minimum of 50p per unit.

“Too many Scots are drinking themselves to death. Now is the time to tackle the toll that Scotland’s unhealthy relationship is taking on our society,” said Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon.

Ms Sturgeon’s words echo those expressed by Minister of State at the Department of Health Roisin Shorthall when she announced her intention to introduce minimum pricing in Ireland, which is one of the key recommendations of the Steering Group Report on the National Substance Misuse Strategy.

In Ireland, like Scotland, our unhealthy relationship with alcohol is taking a heavy toll on our society.

 ·                 There is the financial cost – €3.7 billion in avoidable alcohol-related health and crime costs every year, which is the equivalent of the massive bill that this country must repay to the Troika on an annual basis in the years ahead.

 ·                 There is the human cost – one person dies every seven hours from an alcohol-related cause in Ireland and one in four deaths in young men aged from 15 to 39 is due to alcohol. However, despite this, it is still possible for a man to reach his low risk weekly drinking limit for just €8.50, roughly an hour’s pay on the minimum wage.

Scottish research on minimum pricing reiterates compelling international evidence that pricing is one of the most effective ways to tackle alcohol-related harm. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has made it clear that there is “undisputable evidence that the price of alcohol matters”. It’s clear that if the price of alcohol goes up, alcohol-related harm goes down.

Research conducted by Sheffield University has indicated that, in its first year, minimum pricing could save 60 lives in Scotland, as well as leading to significant reductions in hospital admissions and criminal offences. The number of lives saved annually could rise to 300 after 10 years, according to the study.

The Steering Group Report on the National Substance Misuse Strategy contains a large number of important recommendations for reducing alcohol-related harm in Ireland, but it is clear that while minimum pricing is just one of these, unless tackling the affordability of alcohol is at the heart of these measures the strategy will not be nearly as effective as it should be.

Minister Shortall last week welcomed the imminent introduction of a floor price below which alcohol cannot be sold in Scotland and restated her commitment to ensuring that Ireland will follow its example, while plans are also underway to introduce legislation for minimum pricing in Northern Ireland, England and Wales.

 ·                 To read more about minimum pricing and keep up with the latest alcohol-related news from Ireland and around the world visit or read our 2012 Pre Budget Submission.

 ·                 Alcohol Action Ireland’s call for minimum pricing is supported by Barnardos, Faculty of Public Health Medicine, Foroige, Royal College of Physicians in Ireland, Focus Ireland, Rape Crisis Network Ireland, St Vincent De Paul, The Alcohol Forum, The Ballymun Local Drugs Taskforce, The Irish Association of Suicidology, The Irish Cancer Society, The Irish Heart Foundation, The Irish Medical Organisation, The ISPCC, The National Youth Council of Ireland and The No Name Club.

 ·                 If you are a representative of an ogranisation and would like to add its name to the list of charities, NGOs and representative organisations already backing the call for minimum pricing please email

 ·                 A two-page document clearly explaining minimum pricing will be available to download from shortly and copies are also be available on request from