Alcohol Action Ireland today welcomes new research from the Health Research Board (HRB) examining the circumstances around fire-related deaths between 2014 and 2016.
The study found that there were 106 fire-related fatalities recorded in inquests. Alcohol features prominently with alcohol present on toxicology for 54 (51%) fatalities. Almost two thirds (64%) of those who were drinking had a blood alcohol concentration of more than three times the legal driving limit. The HRB report is the first time that data in relation to fire fatalities from all coroner sites in Ireland has been analysed.
CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland Dr Sheila Gilheany said: “In Ireland we are drinking at very high and risky levels – 80% above global average, and this has all sorts of consequences for physical and mental health and unfortunately can also be a factor in such tragic incidents as outlined in the HRB report released today.”
“It is for this reason that we must implement the Public Health Alcohol Act in full. The measures contained in the Act, implemented coherently, will reduce hospital admissions, decrease risky consumption- and therefore behaviour, and will save lives.”
Dr Gilheany added that comments from Minister Simon Harris that minimum unit pricing (MUP) will be brought to Cabinet before Christmas are very welcome.
“It is notable that Scotland introduced MUP in May 2018 and Wales is set to introduce it in March 2020. Ireland has ground breaking legislation –we need to use it,” she said.
The HRB study also found that men were more likely to have alcohol in their system and were more likely to have a higher blood alcohol concentration. Among men with high levels of alcohol in their blood, more than half were aged between 35-59 years. We know from research that Irish men have very high levels of alcohol consumption and a consistent pattern of binge drinking. In a global study on the level of alcohol consumption, 54% of Irish men were considered to be binge drinkers, defined as drinking at least six standard drinks on one drinking occasion, which is especially hazardous for health and wellbeing.
 Global alcohol exposure between 1990 and 2017 and forecasts until 2030: a modelling study.