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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 1234 - Alcohol pricing [25364/16].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 1234 - Alcohol pricing [25364/16]. (16 Sep 2016)

1234. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Health the financial benefits that would accrue to the drinks industry from the introduction of minimum pricing for alcohol; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25364/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy): The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will make it illegal to sell or advertise for sale alcohol at a price below a set minimum price. Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) sets a minimum price per gram of alcohol. The minimum price of an alcohol product would be based on the number of grams of alcohol in the product. MUP is a targeted measure, aimed at those who drink in a harmful and hazardous manner, and designed to prevent the sale of alcohol at very cheap prices. MUP is able to target cheaper alcohol relative to its strength because the minimum price is determined by and is directly proportional to the amount of pure alcohol in the drink. The MUP is set in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill at 10c per gram of alcohol, which equates to a minimum price of €1 per standard drink.

The University of Sheffield study reported that the alcohol products most affected by this policy are those that are currently being sold very cheaply, often below cost prices, in the off-trade, i.e. supermarkets and off-licences. The study indicated that a minimum price of 10 cent per gram will lead to an overall increase of 11.1% in the price of alcohol, with an increase of 29% in the off-trade and 0.2% in the on-trade. This in turn, would lead to an overall decrease in consumption of 8.8%, with a decrease of 19.6% in the off-trade and an increase of 0.3% in the on-trade respectively. Revenue to retailers is estimated to increase with the majority of this accruing in the off-trade.

MUP will lead to substantial health, social and economic gains. The study by the University of Sheffield has estimated that €1.7 billion savings will be accrued cumulatively over a 20-year-period. This figure includes reduced direct healthcare costs, savings from reduced crime and policing, savings from reduced workplace absence and a financial valuation of the health benefits measured in terms of quality-adjusted life years. In addition, while a number of years will be needed to see savings in relation to some illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer, MUP will also have some immediate effects on health costs, crime costs and loss of productivity due to absenteeism.

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