Government urged to act on Public Health (Alcohol) Bill

By June Shannon Policy News   |   12th Sep 2018

The Irish Heart Foundation calls on Government to move on the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.

As the Dail prepares to return next week, The Irish Heart Foundation, as a member of the Alcohol Health Alliance, has called on the Government to put the health of the public first, by enacting the much-needed Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.

Expressing concern that more than 1,000 days has passed since the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill was first commenced through the Oireachtas and has yet to be enacted, the Irish Heart Foundation urged the early implementation of the legislation and acknowledged that it is currently due to go to Dail report stage.

Excessive alcohol consumption can badly affect heart health as it can increase the heart rate and blood pressure while its calorie content also contributes to weight gain.

Alcohol also increases the chance of developing cardiac arrhythmias (atrial fibrillation). This is in addition to all the other deleterious effects alcohol has on our health including an increased risk of cancer.

Excessive alcohol consumption can badly affect heart health as it can increase the heart rate and blood pressure while its calorie content also contributes to weight gain

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Nearly one million people in Ireland have high blood pressure, a major cause of heart attack or stroke, and last year almost 9,000 people died from cardiovascular disease in Ireland.

High blood pressure usually comes with an even bigger problem — a lack of symptoms. High blood pressure is one of the most common alcohol-related health problems, but many people don’t realise they have it.

Drinking too much alcohol over time raises blood pressure, which means the heart must work harder to pump blood around the body. High blood pressure can significantly increase the risk of stroke and heart disease; it can affect how quickly a heart beats (arrhythmias); and can even cause the heart muscles to weaken leading to a condition called alcoholic cardiomyopathy.

According to the Irish Heart Foundation, the human face of alcohol related harm in cardiovascular disease is very real: it is the heart attack victim or the stroke patient.

A total of 1,500 beds are occupied every night in the health service by patients with alcohol related problems.

“When we talk about the need to reduce waiting lists, take people off trollies in overcrowded A&Es and do more for the management of chronic disease, we cannot overlook important measures to deal with prevention of alcohol-related harm. Ireland led the way in pioneering tobacco legislation, now it is time to do the same with this Bill,” the Irish Heart Foundation added.

"We are urging our legislators to finally put the health of the public first by enshrining these vital protections in law without delay after the summer recess.”

Mr Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy, Irish Heart Foundation

Commenting Mr Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy with the Irish Heart Foundation said is was beyond any doubt that the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill would reduce alcohol consumption and lessen the impact of alcohol related harms throughout society, and among young people in particular.

“The failure to enact the Bill within a thousand days of its introduction in the Oireachtas illustrates the immense power the alcohol industry wields over health policy in Ireland. So, as the celebrations around the Junior Cert results later today are set to provide a stark demonstration yet again of the culture of underage drinking in Ireland, we are urging our legislators to finally put the health of the public first by enshrining these vital protections in law without delay after the summer recess.”

The Alcohol Health Alliance was established by Alcohol Action Ireland and the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI). It brings together a range of public health campaigners whose mission is to reduce the harm caused by alcohol.

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Related Topics

alcohol alcohol. heart. stroke legislation oireachtas Public Health Alcohol Bill

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