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Call for minimum unit pricing

03 Jul 2014

Prof Frank Murray

Doctors have called for the urgent introduction of minimum unit pricing (MUP) in Budget 2015 to tackle harmful drinking, expressing disappointment the implementation of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which they say has the potential to save lives and to drive changes in attitudes, has been delayed.

They also want an increase in excise duty for alcohol products at least in line with inflation.

The introduction of an MUP for alcoholic beverages was the only way to promptly and substantially reduce the sale of cheap alcohol, reduce chronic alcohol-related health harm and moderate the cost to the State of the associated illnesses and social problems, according to the RCPI, citing its own data and the example of Canada.

The first study of its kind on alcohol consumption published last week — the National Alcohol Diary Survey — found that 75 per cent of all alcohol consumed in Ireland was drunk as part of a binge-drinking session, the College’s policy group on alcohol said. The Health Research Board-funded research showed that 150,000 people were “dependent drinkers” and more than 1.3 million were “harmful drinkers”.

The policy group’s chairman, Prof Frank Murray, said an MUP would mostly affect off-trade business where cheap alcohol was sold. “The introduction of minimum unit pricing will have the biggest impact on individuals who consume large quantities of cheap alcohol products, which tend to be young people and problem drinkers. It is the best way to tackle binge-drinking as highlighted in the HRB report and previously by the WHO,” he commented.

“It [Bill] is the best way we can begin to show the world that we are attempting to shake off the ‘drunken Irish’ label once and for all.”

3 July 2014

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times