New policy group on alcohol to recommend minimum pricing

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From the Medical Independent

The RCPI has established a national policy group to address the health and social burden of alcohol in Ireland.

According to the RCPI, the policy group brings together experts from a wide range of organisations, including the ICGP, the National Cancer Control Programme, the College of Psychiatry of Ireland, the Institute of Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery, the Irish Society of Gastroenterology, and the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine.

 “This multi-disciplinary group will address the unacceptably high levels of alcohol health harm in Ireland by proposing practical solutions backed up by a robust, international evidence base. The group ’s recommendations will be focused on reducing the harm caused by alcohol to health and society, ” the College said.

Professor Frank Murray, Registrar of RCPI and Consultant Gastroenterologist at Beaumont Hospital, is chair of the policy group.

 “The damaging effects of Ireland ’s dysfunctional relationship with alcohol simply can ’t be ignored. Alcohol is the third major cause of premature death and disability, after cigarettes and hypertension, and the major cause of death in men aged 35-50, ” he said.

 “As a society, we need to openly discuss and address the consequences of alcohol-related problems and make well-informed decisions for the sake of our society and future generations.In Ireland, we have the twin problems of increased affordability and dramatically increased availability of alcohol. Restrictions on availability, pricing, advertisements and sponsorship are the main issues that we hope to address through the policy group,” he went on to say.

Professor Murray added that minimum unit pricing for alcohol will reduce the widespread availability of cheap alcohol, which has been proven to have an immediate impact on alcohol related mortality internationally. He also said reducing the availability of alcohol by limiting the numbers of outlets that can sell alcohol and reducing their opening hours are also of proven benefit.

 “The alcohol-benefitting industries will protest loudly but they should not be allowed to formulate health-related policy. Self-regulation of the alcohol industry has proven not to work. ”