Minimum Unit Pricing will reduce alcohol harm and save lives

By June Shannon Policy News   |   7th May 2021

Three-fold increase in alcohol related presentations to hospital Emergency Department  2005-2015.

 

The Irish Heart Foundation has welcomed the decision by Government to introduce Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) for alcohol in January 2022 as it will help reduce alcohol-related harms, and ultimately save lives.

A minimum unit price of 10c per gram of alcohol is provided for in section 11 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 which is designed to address the harms of alcohol misuse.

MUP sets a floor price beneath which alcohol cannot legally be sold and targets products that are cheap relative to their strength. The minimum price is determined by and directly proportionate to the amount of pure alcohol in a drink.

Therefore, when introduced in January next year, the cost of cheapest alcohol products will increase and the more alcohol in a drink the more it will cost.

The Irish Heart Foundation has been an active member of the Alcohol Health Alliance and the introduction of MUP for alcohol is a measure which the Foundation has supported for many years.

" Minimum unit pricing is an effective means of reducing alcohol consumption and increasing health gains,"

Kathryn Reilly, Policy Manager , The Irish Heart Foundation

Commenting Kathryn Reilly, Policy Manager with the Irish Heart Foundation said, “alcohol misuse places a heavy burden on individuals, families, communities, workplaces and the health service. Minimum unit pricing is an effective means of reducing alcohol consumption and increasing health gains, particularly among the heaviest drinkers.

“However, while we recognise the significant step the commencement of this section will be, we must also acknowledge other sections of the Bill that have yet to be commenced – measures on labelling, broadcast watershed and content of alcohol advertising. In that regard, the Irish Heart Foundation will continue our lobbying efforts on this, individually and collectively as part of the Alcohol Health Alliance, to ensure the Public Health (Alcohol) Act is fully implemented.”

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, said, “addressing the availability of cheap strong alcohol products will reduce the disease and death caused by the harmful use of alcohol and will ensure that cheap strong alcohol is not available to children and young people at “pocket money” prices.

" The universal availability of cheap, strong alcohol products has contributed to Ireland's problematic alcohol use and the poor public health related outcomes."

Dr Sheila Gilheany, CEO , Alcohol Action Ireland

Dr Sheila Gilheany, CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland, said; “Alcohol Action Ireland are pleased that Section 11 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act will now be commenced. The universal availability of cheap, strong alcohol products has contributed to Ireland’s problematic alcohol use and the poor public health related outcomes. By commencing MUP, and establishing a floor price for alcohol, we can expect to see less alcohol being purchased by those who cause themselves, and others, the greatest harm. This will reduce alcohol harm and save lives.”

Professor Siobhan MacHale, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist at Beaumont Hospital, said; “As a physician and psychiatrist who works in a general hospital, I see patients affected by alcohol on a daily basis, in settings ranging from Emergency Departments to ICU. We have seen a three-fold increase in alcohol related presentations to Beaumount Hospital Emergency Department over a 10-year period, 2005-2015.

“I, along with Emergency Department, Hepatology and Psychiatry colleagues in Beaumont Hospital greatly welcome and strongly support MUP as a targeted public health measure to help those most vulnerable in our society to minimise alcohol-related harm.”

Mark Murphy, Advocacy Officer with the Irish Heart Foundation said the decision by government to formally approve the introduction of minimum pricing from alcohol from the 1st of January next year was to be “hugely welcomed.”

“While the delay to the introduction of MUP is disappointing, this initiative will benefit public health as a whole by reducing over-consumption and the development of chronic illnesses, while also helping our healthcare sector by lowering alcohol related hospital admissions and treatments,” he said.

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Related Topics

alcohol alcohol harm alcohol marketing alcohol. heart. stroke public health Public Health Alcohol Bill

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