No more alcohol at 'pocket money' prices says Government

"We will be the better for it," assured the Tánaiste at the announcement of today's Cabinet agreement to bring in minimum unit pricing of alcohol.

A minimum unit price of 10c per gram of alcohol is provided for in section 11 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018. Minimum unit pricing will set a floor price beneath which alcohol cannot legally be sold and the government claim it will target products that are cheap relative to their strength. The minimum price is determined by and is directly proportionate to the amount of pure alcohol in the drink.

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly said the strategy aims to reduce the harms caused by the misuse of alcohol and to delay the initiation of alcohol consumption by children and young people.

“Ireland had the third highest level of adolescent binge drinking in the world according to data from a global study published in The Lancet in March 2019, while 2018 saw an 80% increase in the number of children under-16 admitted to Irish hospitals because of alcohol intoxication. 36 children in 2018 compared to 20 such cases in 2017.

“Addressing the availability of cheap strong alcohol products will reduce the disease and death caused by the harmful use of alcohol and will ensure that cheap strong alcohol is not available to children and young people at “pocket money” prices.”

He added that they are also investing €1.08m to expand alcohol services.

Improve wellbeing

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD, said: “Today, the Government has taken another major decision to improve public health in Ireland with Minimum Unit Pricing.

“Alcohol consumption is a major cause of illness, hospitalisations, suicide, self-harm, and violence. This Bill targets the drinkers causing the most harm both to themselves and to society. I believe it is the right thing to do. It will save lives and indirectly improve the wellbeing of thousands of Irish people. We will be the better for it.”

Dr. Sheila Gilheany, CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland, said; “The universal availability of cheap, strong alcohol products has contributed to Ireland's problematic alcohol use and the poor public health related outcomes. By commencing MUP, and establishing a floor price for alcohol, we can expect to see less alcohol being purchased by those who cause themselves, and others, the greatest harm. This will reduce alcohol harm and save lives.”

Most vulnerable

Professor Siobhan MacHale, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist at Beaumont Hospital, said; “As a physician and psychiatrist who works in a general hospital, I see patients affected by alcohol on a daily basis, in settings ranging from Emergency Departments to ICU. We have seen a three-fold increase in alcohol related presentations to Beaumount Hospital Emergency Department over a 10 year period, 2005-2015.

“I, along with Emergency Department, Hepatology and Psychiatry colleagues in Beaumont Hospital greatly welcome and strongly support MUP as a targeted public health measure to help those most vulnerable in our society to minimise alcohol-related harm.”