Office for alcohol harm reduction

In 2020, Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI) set out its vision, mission, values, goals and actions over the next five years in a comprehensive strategic plan.


Our vision is of a society free from alcohol harm. Central to that strategy is the establishment of a state-sponsored Office to take the lead in co-ordinating all actions around alcohol will have the effect of keeping the whole-of-government focus on this critical issue and limit the reach of the alcohol industry in delaying and obstructing public health alcohol policy.


Over the past three decades, Ireland, in common with countries right across the globe, has successfully introduced advertising bans and other restrictions on tobacco. The National Tobacco Free Ireland Programme has an overarching role across health and legal issues such as the provision of smoking cessation training, health promotion, research, compliance and enforcement.


This has led to a significant fall in tobacco use with the Irish National Drug and Alcohol Survey published in 2021 noting that current smokers now only comprise 17% of the population. The same survey, however, indicates that approximately 74% of the population consume alcohol and that one in seven of the population has an alcohol use disorder.


Similarly, with the establishment of the Road Safety Authority in 2006 there has been a concerted effort to address road safety across multiple areas. This has seen road deaths fall from 396 in 2005 to 136 in 2021. Meanwhile alcohol accounts for at least 1500 deaths annually. These two examples illustrate that it is possible to achieve a significant cultural change by having a strong and highly targeted government approach to the issue.


In order to comprehensively address alcohol harm there is a need to establish a statutory office for Alcohol Harm Reduction, which will take the lead on co-ordinating all aspects of alcohol regulation in Ireland including licensing, marketing and promotion, strategic development of treatment services, education/prevention programming, commissioning of relevant data, plus monitoring and evaluation of policy in this area.


The proposed actions are designed to highlight the need for such a body the establishment of which would help with the full implementation of the PHAA, the protection of children and the provision of timely alcohol treatment services and recovery.

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