Alcohol Action Ireland, the independent advocate for reducing alcohol harm, welcome the announcement today (29 July) from Northern Ireland Health Minister, Robin Swann, of his commitment to holding a full public consultation on the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing for Alcohol in Northern Ireland.
The introduction of minimum pricing for alcohol products in Scotland, Wales and Jersey have seen significant reductions in the level of cheap, strong alcohol sold, while its introduction in other jurisdictions across the world such as Northern Territory (Australia) have also proven its efficacy as an immediate public health measure with reduced episodes of acute alcohol incidents.
In Ireland, the new government have a made a commitment within the Programme for Government: Our Shared Future, to ‘honour our longstanding commitment to introducing minimum unit pricing in consultation with Northern Ireland.’
Commenting on today’s announcement, Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications at Alcohol Action, said:
“This is a welcome development by Minister Swann. We understand that there has been early engagement between Ministers Donnelly and Swann and we would hope that both Ministers can now work quickly to advance the implementation of this proven public health measure as cohesively as possible.”
The Public Health Alcohol Act, which was enacted over 600 days ago, includes provisions to introduce Minimum Unit Pricing in Ireland but its commencement by the previous Minister for Health Simon Harris, was persistently delayed by opposing influences within government despite being democratically approved by the Oireachtas.
The heaviest drinkers, who are encouraged by a ‘race to the bottom’ pricing strategy from the alcohol producers, remain of greatly disproportionate importance to the sales and profitability of alcohol producers.