New Programme for Government: Where to next for alcohol policy?

  • Post category:Newsletter

The new Fine Gael/ Labour Programme for Government states that it will “integrate drug and alcohol abuse strategies at local level” – the commitment occurs in a general section headed drugs and would seem to offer a direction for how the National Substance Misuse Strategy will be rolled out but the big question for alcohol policy is – where to next?

till-receiptx250Unfortunately, no mention is made of the key initiatives proven to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harm as outlined by the World Health Organisation: pricing, accessibility and alcohol marketing.

Alcohol Action Ireland is calling on the new government to commit to reducing alcohol-related harm by 30% – the same level of harm reduction that has been achieved in road safety.

This commitment could save 30 lives a month; reduce overnight hospital admissions by 600 a day and save the exchequer €1 billion a year (Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer, 2010).

Suggested three point plan:

  • introduce minimum pricing – a floor price beneath which alcohol cannot be sold
  • an end to ‘light touch’ regulation
  • restore slashed excise duty levels

In Northern Ireland, moves are afoot to introduce a minimum price on alcohol.

Alcohol Action Ireland director Fiona Ryan said: “There is popular support for minimum pricing in the Republic of Ireland – two out of three adults in the Republic are in favour of such a move. We welcome any moves to introduce a minimum price for alcohol in Northern Ireland and hope that our new Government will participate in bringing about effective legislation or at the very least begin a similar consultation process   on the issue in the Republic.

“Cheap alcohol carries a high cost and we’re already paying for it. Alcohol-related harm costs this country around €3.7billion a year including health, absenteeism and crime-related costs – that means €3,318 for everyone paying income tax in the country.

“One of the myths about alcohol in this country is that it is expensive. In Ireland, cans of beer are selling for 66c each or less, wine for €4 and bottles of vodka retailing at €12. It’s possible for a woman to reach her low risk drinking limit for just €6.30 a week and a man can do so for less than €10.”

To read more, you can view and download our Alcohol in Ireland: Tackling the Financial Hangover Pre-Budget Submission 2011 and the Case for Minimum Pricing here or you can call us at (01) 8780610 to request a hard copy.