Fine Gael Dublin Senator, Catherine Noone, has today (Wednesday) welcomed the news that a minimum price will be set for alcohol, saying that the move will help us to tackle our troubled relationship with alcohol. Full details of the plan aimed at tackling problem drinking are expected to be announced by the Government tomorrow.
“I am very pleased that the Government is tackling problem drinking head on, by introducing minimum pricing for alcohol. It will effectively mean that the more potent the alcohol, the higher the price, which will act as a disincentive – and in some cases a strong deterrent – to the purchase of drink with a high alcohol content.
“A report by Alcohol Action Ireland recently underlined the fact that the below cost selling of alcohol must be tackled for the benefit of our wider society. In recent decades, we have seen a huge rise in underage drinking. Children born in 1980 used alcohol for the first time at age 16, whereas children born in 1990 used it for the first time at age 14. That’s a hugely worrying trend, with dire consequences for our economy and society.
“Alcohol abuse is a huge cost on society. Our health services spend €1.2 billion each year – or around 8% of our healthcare budget – treating alcohol-related illnesses and accidents. We need to address one of the main root causes of this problem; price. It’s possible to purchase large volumes of alcohol, with plenty of change from €10. Many large multiple retailers are clearly using cut-price alcohol as an incentive to get customers through the door. This means the price of alcohol is one of the main factors which determine where people do their weekly shop.
“It’s estimated that supermarkets spend about one fifth of their advertising budgets on alcohol products. Setting a minimum price, based on volume, would help undo this effect. I believe that in a society where 54% of children have admitted to being drunk by age 16, establishing a minimum cost will be an important step forward in addressing our very worrying relationship with alcohol.”