Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 can help to reduce the harm being caused to health

Healthy Ireland survey shows obesity rates remain a cause of great concern

Prof Frank Murray, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland said the findings of the first survey of the nation's health under the Government's Healthy Ireland initiative are not surprising and says the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill can reduce health harm in Ireland.

"Three people die in Ireland every day as a result of alcohol misuse. We are concerned that the findings show a lack of awareness of the damage that alcohol causes to health. It is linked to seven cancers including of the liver and colon and breast cancer in women. Alcohol is a factor in one in 10 deaths before aged 50.

" Every family is affected by alcohol. Our harmful relationship with alcohol damages men, women and children. The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill contains many evidence based initiatives, primarily setting a Minimum Unit Price for alcohol that targets those who drink large volumes of high strength cheap alcohol.

"MUP has the potential to quickly reduce the number of people attending hospital and the numbers of deaths, incidents and accidents in Ireland. Every night 1,500 hospital beds are occupied as a result of alcohol putting an unsustainable burden on the health services.

"The Bill will also bring in new labelling that can help consumers to make better choices about alcohol. It will help them to assess the health risks, the units of alcohol being consumed and the amount of calories contained in various drinks. This Bill, which will shortly come through the Houses of the Oireachtas. It deserves to be supported.

"The survey shows how public health initiatives that were fiercely resisted by tobacco companies have been a resounding success in reducing deaths and smoking rates in Ireland. We have an opportunity to make similar strides in reducing the health harms of alcohol

"The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland's Policy Group on Obesity, which is co-chaired by Prof Donal O'Shea and Prof Catherine Hayes, will publish an expert report next week that will provide a roadmap for the clinical treatment and management go obesity. Their work will inform the National Obesity Strategy."