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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 817 - Health reports [13244/17] [Alcohol].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 817 - Health reports [13244/17] [Alcohol]. (21 Mar 2017)

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817. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Health his views on the fact that 73% of respondents to a research study by an organisation (details supplied) are of the view that drinking to excess is part of Irish culture; the actions his Department will take in view of this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13244/17]

 

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy): The Drinkaware survey findings reflect the evidence in a previous study 'Alcohol: Public Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviours'. The Health Research Board study reported that 85% of respondents believe that the current level of alcohol consumption in Ireland is too high, with 73% believing that Irish society tolerates high-levels of alcohol consumption.

 

Recent findings suggest that the majority of Irish drinkers engage in excessive or problematic drinking behaviours and that Irish drinkers underestimate their alcohol intake. Ireland’s alcohol consumption remains in the top 5 among EU28 Member States. Ireland came fourth among 36 OECD countries for alcohol consumption, after Estonia, Austria and France. Ireland was second in the WHO European Region (which has the highest consumption in the world) in relation to binge drinking with 39% of the population misusing alcohol in this manner at least monthly. This statistic was confirmed by national research through the Healthy Ireland survey, which found that drinking to excess on a regular basis is commonplace throughout the population with almost 4 in 10 (39%) of drinkers binge drinking on a typical drinking occasion and a quarter of them doing so at least once a week. Provisional figures released from the Office of the Revenue Commissioners indicate that our alcohol consumption levels increased in 2016 to 11.46 litres per capita.

 

It is essential to have a public health policy response which seeks to reduce the number of people engaged in the harmful use of alcohol. The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill contains a package of measures aimed at reducing alcohol consumption in Ireland to 9.1 litres (the OECD average in 2012) per person per annum by 2020, and to reduce the harms associated with alcohol.

 

The Bill includes provisions for:

- minimum unit pricing;

- health labelling of alcohol products;

- the regulation of advertising and marketing of alcohol;

- the regulation of sponsorship;

- separation of alcohol products in mixed trading retail outlets; and

- the regulation of the sale and supply of alcohol in certain circumstances

 

The Bill along with other measures will bring about a cultural shift in how we view and consume alcohol. As a consequence we will see an improvement in both physical and mental health and wellbeing in the population. The Bill commenced Committee Stage in the Seanad on 26 October 2016, and will resume during this session of the Oireachtas.

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