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Home > Report of Alcohol Action Ireland conference ‘Time Please… For Change’.

Mongan, Deirdre (2013) Report of Alcohol Action Ireland conference ‘Time Please… For Change’. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 44, Winter 2012, p. 7.

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Alcohol Action Ireland’s conference, ‘Time Please… For Change’, held on 1 November brought together a number of expert national and international speakers examining key initiatives that could make a difference to Ireland’s harmful relationship with alcohol. The conference was launched by Alex White, Minister for State for Primary Care, who said that the National Substance Misuse Strategy would be brought to Cabinet in the coming weeks. Dr Jean Long, Health Research Board, said that surveys have shown that the Irish public supported many of the recommendations in the Strategy, including those on minimum pricing and advertising restrictions. 

Prof Frank Murray, chairman of the alcohol policy group at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, described how mortality rates for liver cirrhosis in Ireland have doubled in the last 15 years as a result of alcohol consumption. He said that, in order to reduce alcohol consumption and its related harms, it is necessary to increase the price of alcohol and reduce its availability. Marketing lecturer Pat Kenny told the conference that sponsorship was not a type of philanthropy by the alcohol industry, but was part of sophisticated marketing strategies to normalise alcohol consumption.
Dr John Holmes, University of Sheffield, said that alcohol consumption decreased by 3%–8% in Canada following the introduction of minimum pricing and described how similar plans in Scotland would be expected to cut drinking levels by 5.5%. He also stated that minimum pricing has a far greater effect on harmful drinkers than on low-risk consumers as harmful drinkers consume cheaper products. Dr Evelyn Gillan of Alcohol Focus Scotland said that while it is partly true that drinking is part of the culture in Scotland and Ireland, there has been a huge increase in the availability and affordability of alcohol. She also provided an update on the industry challenge to the Scottish government’s minimum pricing legislation introduced in May 2012. The judicial review sought by the industry has been postponed, but Alcohol Focus Scotland remained confident that the government would defeat the legal challenge.
Fiona Ryan, CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland, said the country cannot afford the financial and human costs that arise from alcohol. She said that 27 national charities, community and medical representative organisations, many of which deal with the realities of alcohol-related harm in communities, families, the health system and on the streets, support the call for minimum pricing.

Dr Declan Bedford detailed how implementing evidence-based policy and legislation on drink driving has reduced the harms and costs of alcohol on our roads, and Kathleen O’Meara of the Irish Cancer Society described how policy changes have led to a reduction in tobacco-related harm.
Copies of the presentations can be accessed at

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