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RCPI Policy Group on Alcohol. (2013) Reducing alcohol health harm in Ireland. Dublin: Royal College of Physicians.

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In response to a dramatic increase in Alcoholic Liver Disease among young Irish people, the RCPI Policy Group on Alcohol has issued evidence-based recommendations aimed at reducing the shocking levels of alcohol-related health harm in Ireland.

Reducing Alcohol Health Harm in Ireland, the Group’s first policy statement, was published today, 23 April 2013 and can be downloaded here.

Members of the RCPI Policy Group on Alcohol, all of whom are experienced medical professionals working in a variety of disciplines, are particularly concerned at a dramatic increase in severe alcohol-related health harm in younger people in Ireland.

Studies show that in Ireland:
• Chronic alcohol-related conditions are becoming increasingly common among younger age groups
• The rate of discharges for Alcoholic Liver Disease increased by 247% for 15-34 year olds, and by 224% for 35-49 year olds between 1995 and 2007
• An estimated 4.4% of deaths between 2000 and 2004 were caused by alcohol - This figure includes deaths from chronic alcohol-related conditions such as alcoholic liver disease and liver cancer, and accidental and non-accidental deaths while under the influence of alcohol.
• Approximately 5% of newly diagnosed cancers and cancer deaths are attributable to alcohol i.e. around 900 cases and 500 deaths each year
• Alcohol-related disorders accounted for 1 in 10 first admissions to Irish psychiatric hospitals in 2011
• In 2008, there were 88 deaths directly attributable to alcohol every month
• Between 2004 and 2008, alcohol caused nearly twice as many deaths as all other drugs combined
In response to this crisis, the RCPI Policy Group on Alcohol is calling for the introduction of minimum pricing to prevent the sale of cheap alcohol, and measures to reduce the availability of alcohol, such as stricter control of low cost sales promotions and discounts.

The Group has also recommended measures to change the culture of excessive alcohol consumption in Ireland, stating, “Alcohol sponsorship in sport should no longer be the norm. Alcohol is a drug, and as such can no longer be perceived as a normal component of sporting activity. We are of the view that alcohol sponsorship of sports events and organisations should be phased out.”

Acknowledging that this is a controversial recommendation, the RCPI Policy Group on Alcohol adds, “Many arguments for continued alcohol sponsorship point to the potential financial gap which sporting organisations would suffer if alcohol sponsorship was no longer allowed. This argument does not allow for the fact that there may be other (non-alcohol-related) sponsors who would be interested in the marketing opportunity that this gap would create. Although drinks companies who sponsor sporting events deny that alcohol sponsorship serves to increase alcohol consumption, the evidence is that it does. An analysis of 13 longitudinal studies involving 38,000 young people led the authors to conclude that alcohol advertising and promotion increases the likelihood that adolescents will start to use alcohol, and to drink more if they are already using alcohol.”

Professor Frank Murray, Chair of the RCPI Policy Group on Alcohol and Consultant Gastroenterologist in Beaumont Hospital, said, “In response to the increasing levels of alcohol-related illness and death seen by the medical profession in Ireland, we are recommending minimum unit pricing, reduction in outlets and phasing out alcohol sponsorship of sporting events. International evidence supports these strategies as effective ways to reduce alcohol health harm.”


Item Type
Report
Publication Type
Irish-related, Report
Drug Type
Alcohol
Intervention Type
Harm reduction
Date
April 2013
Pages
37 p.
Publisher
Royal College of Physicians
Corporate Creators
RCPI Policy Group on Alcohol
Place of Publication
Dublin
EndNote
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)
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