We must face up to our dysfunctional relationship with alcohol

Fine Gael Dublin Senator, Catherine Noone, has said today (Tuesday) that alcohol abuse is one of the greatest health threats of our generation and urged the new Oireachtas Cross Party Group on Alcohol Misuse to send out a strong emphatic statement from the outset that it will be the Houses of the Oireachtas, not the alcohol lobby, which dictates alcohol policy.
“I welcome the launch of this new Cross Party Group on Alcohol and I urge it to lead the way on alcohol policy in Ireland. It must be the Houses of the Oireachtas, not the alcohol lobby, which dictates our alcohol policy. We were world leaders when it came to creating laws around tobacco – particularly the smoking ban – and now I hope we can do the same when it comes to alcohol policy.
“There are five key measures which are needed in order to change the ‘choice architecture’ here and ensure that people think twice before having another can, bottle or pint. Physical separation of alcohol in supermarkets and grocery shops, banning alcohol sponsorship in arts and sports, further restrictions on alcohol advertising, a minimum pricing policy, and a change in legislation around packaging of alcohol are, in my opinion, all necessary measures.
“While the measures may be effective if introduced individually, I believe that we should be pushing for these measures to come into place at the same time in order to have the most impact.
“I completely agreed with Alastair Campbell when he highlighted that one often needs to explain why they’re not drinking rather than explain why they are drinking. This is certainly not a new concept in Irish society.
“Ireland needs to be visionary when it comes to alcohol-policy. We need to be forward looking and we need to challenge perceptions around alcohol. If each of the five measures I have suggested produces a 5% reduction in the rate of alcohol-related medical costs, we would be on course to save €300m per annum, given that alcohol-related injuries and diseases cost the taxpayer some €1.2bn per annum. That should be considered by all members of the Oireachtas as we face down this most urgent problem of alcohol misuse in Ireland”.

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