You are currently viewing Press release: AAI calls on government to take evidence-based action and put public health before private wealth 

Press release: AAI calls on government to take evidence-based action and put public health before private wealth 

Research shows that an increase of 10% in the price of alcohol leads to a 7% reduction in road deaths – in Ireland last year, that’s 13 people. 

Alcohol Action Ireland today launched its pre-budget submission, calling for a range of measures to offset the huge harm caused by alcohol – Ireland’s cheapest and most widely available drug.  

AAI CEO Dr Sheila Gilheany said: “Government needs to confront the harm caused by alcohol. A well-evidenced approach is to increase excise duties which have not been touched for a decade. One likely benefit from such an approach would be to reduce drink driving. A 10% increase in alcohol pricing across EU states has been shown to lead to a 7% drop in road deaths. Our question for the Minister for Finance – is he going to prioritise the profits of a global multi-billion-euro industry or the interests of the state which has to pick up the bill for the harm caused by alcohol? In period running up to the budget there will be plenty of PR spin from vested interests, but the evidence is crystal clear that listening to public health advice is best for both the economy and society.” 

Research from Sheffield University indicates that shop-bought alcohol is around the same price that it was 20 years ago – as of 2023 it was 70% more affordable than in 2003. Even alcohol bought in the on-trade is 14% more affordable than it was two decades ago. 

Alcohol Action Ireland is calling on the government to increase excise duty on alcohol by at least 15% in the next Budget to bring duties back to their 2014 levels and, going forward, that alcohol excise duty should be automatically linked to the Consumer Price Index.  

Beyond alcohol duties there is also a need to consider other ways to ensure that the alcohol industry pays for the harm caused by its products. AAI is calling on government to:  

  • develop a new ‘polluter pays’ alcohol levy system, with funding raised to be ringfenced for alcohol harm reduction strategies 
  • introduce a mechanism for automatic uprating of Minimum Unit Pricing in line with inflation otherwise it will lose its public health value 
  • provide funding to the HSE to develop its own trauma-informed treatment services, as well as funding Alcohol Care Teams within all major hospitals 
  • provide dedicated funding to give the national Hidden Harm framework – that recognises the adverse childhood experience of growing up with parental problem substance use – momentum and urgency 
  • provide immediate top-up funding for youth mental health services and initiatives  

There are multiple benefits in increasing alcohol taxation. Reducing consumption leads to a reduction in alcohol harms. One example of this is that there is clear evidence from research in EU countries that a 10% increase in the price of alcohol leads to a 7% reduction in road deaths. In Ireland for 2023, that’s 13 people who would still be alive today. 

The impact of alcohol on the family is extensive and growing up in a home where there is parental problem alcohol use (PPAU) has been recognised internationally as an adverse childhood experience (ACE) for over 20 years with massive economic costs at the level of 2% of GDP. As a European-wide cost analysis points out: “Rebalancing expenditure towards ensuring safe and nurturing childhoods would be economically beneficial and relieve pressures on health-care systems.” 

Dr Gilheany continued: “Alcohol is Ireland’s cheapest and most widely available drug. The harm from alcohol permeates all areas of society and places a huge burden on government finances – from the Justice system through Health, workplace productivity and children and family impacts – costing the state around €12bn annually. Excise duty raised from alcohol brings in only 10% of this – €1.2bn. The difference is being picked up by the Irish taxpayer while the alcohol industry continues to make massive profits for its shareholders. It’s high time the government addresses this and puts public health before private wealth.” 


Editor’s notes: 

AAI pre-Budget submission can be accessed at:

AAI’s media language guide can be accessed here 

You can contact me at this email address or phone 087 995 0186 for queries or interview requests. 


Conor Keane 

Communications Officer 

Alcohol Action Ireland 

Coleraine House, 

Coleraine Street, 

Dublin D07 E8XF 

Mobile +353 (0) 87 995 0186 



Alcohol Action Ireland The national independent advocate for reducing alcohol harm 

Currently working remotely 

Registered Charity Number: 20052713 

CHY: 15342. 

Company Number: 378738