Minimum Pricing on alcohol call from national charities and medical representative organisations

Tackle alcohol pricing to cut €3.7 billion bill from alcohol-related harm

National charities and medical representative organisations back call for minimum pricing

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, is calling on the Government to tackle alcohol pricing in this year’s budget with a minimum pricing initiative and an excise duty restoration that could earn the Government €178million and reduce Ireland’s €3.7billion bill from alcohol-related harm.

The call for minimum pricing on alcohol is being supported by leading children and health charities, medical representative organisations, young people’s representative organisations and local drugs taskforces including: Barnardos, Focus Ireland, No Name Club, Rape Crisis Network Ireland, The Ballymun Local Drugs Taskforce, The Irish Cancer Society, The Irish Heart Foundation, The Irish Medical Organisation, The ISPCC, The National Youth Council of Ireland and The North West Alcohol Forum.

Alcohol Action Ireland Director Fiona Ryan said: “At a time when we need to do more with less, we cannot afford the current cost of cheap alcohol. At the moment in Ireland, a woman can reach her weekly low risk drinking limit for less than €7 and a man can do so for less than €10 – to put this into perspective that’s effectively an hour worked on minimum wage.

“Our health services spend €1.2 billion each year, around one twelfth of the health budget – treating alcohol-related illnesses and accidents, while alcohol-related crime and public order costs us a further €1.2billion. According to the Chief Medical Officer of Ireland, a 30 per cent reduction in alcohol-related harm would result in a cost saving to the Exchequer of €1 billion.”

Ms Ryan was speaking as the charity launched Alcohol in Ireland: Finding the Right Measure, its Pre-Budget Submission.   (Pre Budget Submission can be found on or can be sent via email on request.)

She said: “The last Government considered alcohol pricing to be off the political agenda, despite evidence from the World Health Organisation that tackling pricing is the key way to reduce alcohol-related harms, this Government has an opportunity to make a difference to people’s lives and health.

“Alcohol has become more than 50 per cent more affordable in Ireland than it was fifteen years ago. According to the CSO, average prices rose by 2.6% in the year while alcohol prices actually fell by 1%. The question is: can we continue to afford our drinks bill? The answer has to be no.”

Quotes from organisations supporting minimum pricing

ISPCC CEO, Ashley Balbirnie said: “The ISPCC supports the call for minimum pricing of alcohol as a step towards strengthening the protection of young people and changing attitudes and practices when it comes to drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Last year we surveyed almost 10,000 12 to 18-year-olds on the subject of alcohol with 25% reporting that they engage in binge-drinking and 9% saying that their parents’ alcohol use affects them in a hugely negative way.”

The Irish Cancer Society
The Irish Cancer Society’s Head of Advocacy and Communications, Kathleen O’Meara said:
“The Irish Cancer Society supports minimum pricing for alcohol as there is growing evidence that lifestyle factors, such as alcohol consumption, increase the risk of getting some cancers. We echo the World Health Organisation’s position that reducing alcohol consumption is one of the main ways of reducing alcohol-related diseases, and the most effective way of reducing alcohol consumption is to tackle pricing.”

Barnardos’ Director of Advocacy, Norah Gibbons said: “We know that the effects of both parental misuse of alcohol and young people’s own consumption of it are hugely detrimental to the welfare and safety of families and young people. We have all the evidence, both anecdotal and research based, to prove the impact. Now is the time for the Government to look at minimum pricing as a key measure to break the cycle of alcohol misuse and harm.”

Rape Crisis Network of Ireland
Rape Crisis Network Ireland’s Dr Clíona Saidléar said: “The latest research shows that almost 80% of people investigated for rape and whose files were sent to the DPP, had been drinking. Alcohol is not and cannot be, an excuse for rape or an excuse for recklessness as to consent. However, we know that the presence of alcohol may make it difficult to investigate and prosecute a sexual crime.

“It is time we faced up to the fact that a key part of addressing the very high rates of sexual violence in our society must include addressing the behaviour and attitudes that exist within Ireland’s drinking culture including consumption levels. It is for that reason the RCNI support Alcohol Action Ireland’s call for minimum pricing on alcohol.”

Notes to the Editor:

  • All figures from the HSE-commissioned report Costs to Society of Problem Alcohol Use in Ireland (2010) by Sean Byrne
  • Alcohol-related harm costs us an estimated €3.7 billion* each year – which works out at a bill of €3,318 for every tax payer in the country. On a national level that’s 1.9% of GDP – almost 50% more than the EU average of 1.3%.
  • Alcohol is the third leading cause of death and disability in developed countries, after   tobacco and high blood pressure, World Health Organisation, 2002 (The World Health Report 2002: Reducing Risks and Promoting Healthy Lifestyle)
  • The RAND report commissioned by the European Commission’s Department of Health (DG SANCO) found that Ireland was one of six countries in the EU where alcohol had become over 50% more affordable than it was in 1996
  • According to the Health Research Board’s 2007 report Health-related Consequences of Problem Alcohol Use, between 1995 and 2004, the latest available statistics:
    • the discharge diagnoses of alcohol –related liver conditions increased by 147%
    • alcohol-related mortality almost doubled

For further information or comment contact:
Alcohol Action Ireland: (01) 878 0610/ 087 219 5723