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Home > Seanad Eireann Debate. Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015: Committee Stage.

[Oireachtas] Seanad Eireann Debate. Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015: Committee Stage. (26 Oct 2016)


…Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy): I am pleased to be in the Seanad for the Committee Stage debate on the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015. As all Senators are aware, alcohol is causing significant damage across the population, in workplaces and to children. It carries a substantial burden to everyone in Irish society.


  I would like to outline some of the forms of harm caused by or attributable to alcohol. In 2013, an average of three people died every day as a result of drinking alcohol. On average, one alcohol-related death each day is due to poisoning or trauma and two alcohol-related deaths are due to chronic conditions. Alcohol is a contributory factor in half of all suicides and in deliberate self-harm. In 2014, one in three self-harm presentations was related to alcohol. Alcohol is associated with a risk of developing health problems such as alcohol dependence, liver cirrhosis, cancer and injury. The rate of alcohol liver disease discharges trebled between 1995 and 2013. The highest rate of increase was observed among those between the ages of 15 and 34. It is estimated that the incidence of alcohol-related cancers will more than double for females and will increase by 81% for males up to 2020. Alcohol is a factor in many cases of assault, including sexual assault, rape, domestic violence and manslaughter. It is estimated that 167,170 people suffered an alcohol-related assault in 2013.


  The cost of alcohol misuse also has a significant impact on the economy and the taxpayer. For example, the annual cost to the taxpayer of alcohol-related discharges from hospital is €1.5 billion. In addition, approximately €1 of every €10 spent on public health in 2012 was assigned to alcohol-related discharges. This excludes emergency care, general practice and alcohol treatment services. It is estimated that 5,315 people who were on the unemployment register in November 2013 had lost their jobs due to alcohol use. The estimated cost of alcohol-related absenteeism was €41 million in 2013.


  The Government is committed to tackling alcohol misuse in Ireland and the widespread harm it causes. It is working to reduce alcohol consumption and to address the underlying causes of alcohol misuse, which are affordability, availability and attractiveness. The Bill before the House is the most far-reaching proposal ever to have been made in this area by an Irish Government. For the first time, alcohol is being addressed legislatively as a public health measure. This legislation is a measured and evidence-based response to the need to deal with the very real harm caused by alcohol. The aim of the Bill is to reduce alcohol consumption in Ireland to 9.1 litres per person per annum, which is the OECD average, by 2020 and to reduce the overall harms associated with alcohol. The legislative measures contained in the Bill are required if we are to achieve this aim and to alter our relationship with alcohol…..


[For the full debate please click on this link]

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