Minimum €1 alcohol price would deliver 200 fewer deaths

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar believes minimum unit pricing could help cut damaging levels of alcohol consumption

Sheffield University Alcohol Research Group finds shops and supermarkets would receive a further €69m if a minimum unit price of €1 per unit of alcohol was introduced



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13 March 2015

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By introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol of €1 per unit, there would be nearly 200 fewer alcohol-related deaths each year, new government-commissioned research reveals.

The report found that retailers would also benefit, with the off-trade receiving an extra €69m, while the on-trade would gain an extra €9m.

Sheffield University Alcohol Research Group conducted the research, commissioned by the Irish and Northern Irish governments as part of their plans to introduce minimum pricing.

However these plans are currently on hold, until the outcome of a decision by the European Court of Justice on the Scottish government’s plans to implement minimum pricing, is announced.

The Oireachtas Joint Health Committee heard statistics from the report that showed a minimum unit price of €1 per drink would result in an 8.8% fall in overall consumption; 1,500 less criminal offences in the first year and an impressive €1.1bn in health savings, €103m in crime savings and €237m in workplace savings.

The Irish Examiner reports that the research group’s Dr John Holmes said: “There is strong and consistent evidence that price increases reduce alcohol consumption and related harm.”

He said that low-risk drinkers buy little cheap alcohol and so would not be penalised, but that, “high-risk drinkers would…be substantially affected as they buy large quantities of the alcohol affected by the policy”.

Fellow researcher Colin Angus said 22% of Irish people are drinking at high-risk levels and account for 66% of all alcohol consumed and 61% of alcohol spending. Angus said this group accounted for almost all deaths and 87% of hospital admissions.

Dr Holmes said minimum pricing should only be one part of an overall strategy, but it was “particularly effective” in targeting high levels of consumption among high-risk drinkers.



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