Alcohol consumption in Ireland continues to fall

15 March 2016

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The latest figures from the Revenue Commissioners’ alcohol clearance data show a further decrease in alcohol consumption in Ireland last year, continuing a long-term trend of consumption decline over the last 15 years.

In his paper ‘Estimate of Alcohol Consumption per Adult in 2015’, DCU economist Tony Foley uses the CSO Population and Migration Estimates and Revenue Commissioners’ alcohol clearances, and concludes that alcohol consumption was down 0.7% between 2014 and 2015, consistent with the long-term trend of decline in alcohol consumption that has been evident since 2001.

“The level and trend in average alcohol consumption are important elements in public policy evaluation and design,” said Tony Foley, economist at DCU. “Average per adult alcohol consumption decreased by 0.7% in 2015 compared with 2014; from 11.086 litres of pure alcohol (LPA) to 11.013 LPA. It is useful to put the Irish figure into an international perspective. The latest OECD health statistics report an OECD average alcohol consumption for 2013 or latest year of 8.8 LPA, Ireland in this database is measured as 10.6 LPA.

“The OECD average has been identified as a policy target for Ireland. However, this is not necessarily appropriate,” Foley added, due to the fact that “far distant and culturally specific countries such as Turkey and Israel with very low alcohol consumption around 2.6 and 1.4 LPA respectively” are included, alongside several other countries with low-ish consumption such as Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico and USA.

In fact, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia and Poland all have higher alcohol consumption levels than Ireland.

Maggie Timoney, chair of the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland and chief executive of Heineken Ireland said: “When framing public policy issues pertaining to alcohol, it is important that we rely on an appropriate fact base. The drinks industry is committed to working with the government in the context of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill to find workable and effective solutions to address misuse.”



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