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[Alcohol Action Ireland] Minimum pricing will make a real difference in the ongoing effort to reduce alcohol-related harm in Ireland. (23 Oct 2013)

External website: http://alcoholireland.ie/

Alcohol Action Ireland welcomes reports that minimum pricing is central to the proposed national alcohol strategy

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol related issues, has welcomed reports that the Government is to introduce a minimum price for alcohol. 

“Introducing a minimum price for alcohol – a floor price beneath which alcohol cannot be sold – in conjunction with Northern Ireland will target the very cheapest alcohol products, which are those favoured by the heaviest and most harmful drinkers among us, as well as our young people,” said Suzanne Costello, CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland.
“These drinks have been sold at pocket-money prices in this country, particularly in supermarkets, for far too long now. Minimum pricing is able to target cheaper alcohol relative to its strength because the price is determined by and directly proportionate to the amount of alcohol in the drink. It is for this reason that it will also not affect the price of drinks in pubs, clubs and restaurants, and will have little or no effect on low-risk drinkers,” said Ms Costello.
“The support for minimum pricing is even more welcome considering the pressure the Scottish Government has been exposed to, following its announcement to introduce minimum pricing, both from the alcohol industry at home and internationally. Minimum pricing is also likely to face significant challenges here in Ireland too.
“However, the Government and other politicians should note that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that tackling pricing is one of the most effective measures a Government can undertake to reduce alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms. This has been confirmed by the experience of minimum pricing in Canada, where it has reduced alcohol consumption and related harms, including a significant reduction in deaths due to alcohol,” said Ms Costello.
Alcohol Action Ireland also welcomed the intention to tackle the widespread availability of alcohol, by compelling retailers to separate it from other products, and the proposed introduction of labelling on alcohol products.
“Separating alcohol from other products in retail outlets will be crucial in helping bring an end to the present situation, where alcohol is being sold as if it is just another every day item a family’s shopping basket, like bread or milk. Alcohol is not a grocery and it’s time we stopped treating it like one. Labelling is also a very positive move in this regard as it will, for the first time, include clear warnings on alcohol products sold in Ireland about the dangers which alcohol poses to our health, as well as information regarding the strength and calorie content of the alcohol product,” said Ms Costello.
However, Ms Costello expressed her disappointment a decision on alcohol sponsorship of sports is to be deferred.
“We know that to significantly reduce alcohol-related harm you have to tackle three key areas – the pricing, availability and marketing of alcohol. While this plan will go some way towards addressing young people’s exposure to alcohol marketing on television and in cinemas, there are still serious issues around the marketing of alcohol in this country which will not be addressed by this new plan, including alcohol sponsorship of sports. We know that alcohol marketing, including sponsorship, influences young people’s behaviour in relation to alcohol leading to an increased likelihood of those who aren’t drinking starting and those who are already drinking, drinking more.”
For further information or comment please contact Conor Cullen, Communications Officer, Alcohol Action Ireland, on 01-8780610 or 087-9950186.

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