Royal College of Physicians of Ireland’s Policy Group on Alcohol welcomes Bill to tackle alcohol misuse

Bill is a huge step forward in delivering measures that will reduce the extent of illness, death and social disorder in Ireland

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland’s Policy Group on Alcohol welcomes the measures announced in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 by the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar today (3 February 2015) as an important first step in tackling alcohol abuse.

Prof Frank Murray, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and Chair of the Policy Group on Alcohol says the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing, enforcement, labeling and restrictions on advertising, marketing and sponsorship have proven benefits and the potential to reduce the extent of alcohol-related health harm in Irish society and to save lives.

“The Minister has taken a great stride forward and has listened to those of us who deal with the negative impact of alcohol abuse about what is needed to help to change the culture of drinking in Ireland. Price and availability are crucial in altering behavior.

“We welcome the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing which has been proven in countries like Canada and we look forward to engaging with the legislative process around the setting of this price. The introduction of enforcement by Environmental Health Officers is to be warmly welcomed, as is the raising of awareness of what people are drinking through warning labels and calorie details.

“The Minister and the Government should be praised for listening and taking action to address the serious issues for Irish society caused by excessive drinking. Research shows that about 80 per cent of Irish adults consume alcohol and more than half of those are classified as harmful drinkers. Almost 10 per cent of those who consume alcohol are dependent- and this rises to 15 per cent among 18-24 year olds.

“Campaigns advising us to ‘drink responsibly’ won’t change the drink culture; it takes action on price and availability to reduce the harm caused particularly to younger and harmful or hazardous drinkers.”

For more information, contact:

Yvonne McCahill, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland-01-8639627/085-8502005

Siobhan Creaton, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland-01-8639698/085 8722109

Editors Note

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland established the RCPI Policy Group on Alcohol in 2012 to address the health and social burden of alcohol in Ireland.

The policy group brings together medical experts from a wide range of organisations, including the Irish College of General Practitioners, the National Cancer Control Programme, the College of Psychiatry of Ireland, the Institute of Orthopaedic Surgery, the Irish Society of Gastroenterology, and the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine.

This multi-disciplinary group is addressing the unacceptably high levels of alcohol health harm in Ireland by proposing practical solutions backed up by a robust, international evidence base. The group’s recommendations are focused on reducing the harm caused by alcohol to health and society.