The latest data from the Health Research Board (HRB: 8th March) highlights the prominent role alcohol has in so many unnecessary deaths. Alcohol was implicated in 132 deaths in 2016. That is 37% of all drug poisoning deaths; 354 deaths were recorded in 2016. Alcohol remains the number one drug implicated in deaths, alone or with other drugs, over the reporting period.
The continued mass availability of cheap, strong alcohol in the Irish off trade market is a contributing factor in this outcome.
Alcohol Action Ireland calls on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD., to immediately commence Section 11: Minimum price of alcohol products, of the Public Health Alcohol Act 2018, enacted last October.
Commenting on the latest report on drug poisoning deaths from the HRB, Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications and Advocacy at Alcohol Action Ireland said:
These latest round of figures from the HRB are absolutely tragic. The loss of one hundred and thirty two (132) lives, half of who were premature, is a terrible indictment of our inability to grasp the measures necessary to tackle this level of unnecessary deaths.
Last year the Oireachtas passed the Public Health Alcohol Act 2018, which contains a major policy instrument to implement a minimum price for alcohol products.
This measure would ensure that many of the impactful products such as cheap spirit products like Gin, Vodka, Rum and Whiskey, would be made less affordable than what is currently available on the market.
The 2018 Alcohol Action Annual price survey (August 2018) demonstrated that many of these alcohol products can be purchased for as little as €12.49 (Gin). If Minimum Unit Pricing was implemented, under the law passed, these products would be €21 and more, and so driving a reduction in alcohol consumption.