The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland calls for the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing in Budget 2015 to tackle the chronic health problems being caused by harmful drinking in Ireland

The introduction of a minimum unit price (MUP) for alcoholic beverages is the only way to reduce the sale of cheap alcohol, reduce alcohol related health harm and reduce the cost to the state of alcohol-related illnesses and social problems, according to the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland policy group on alcohol.

Today the first study of its kind on alcohol consumption has found that 75 per cent of all alcohol consumed in Ireland is drunk as part of a binge-drinking session. It also shows that 150,000 people are "dependent drinkers" and more than 1.3 million people are "harmful drinkers" and that 43 per cent of drinking is done at home,

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland says that the introduction of a minimum unit price (MUP) for alcoholic beverages is now urgently required. It also wants to see an increase in excise duty at least in line with inflation in the next Budget.

The policy group’s chairman, Prof Frank Murray, says MUP will mostly affect off-trade business where cheap alcohol is sold. “The introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol will have the biggest impact on individuals who consume large quantities of cheap alcohol products which tend to be young people and problem drinkers. It is the best way to tackle binge drinking as highlighted in the HRB report today and previously by the World Health Organisation.

“It is disappointing that the implementation of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill has been delayed. This Bill has the potential to save lives and to drive changes in Irish attitudes. It is the bestway we can begin to show the world that we are attempting to shake off the “drunken Irish” label once and for all” Prof Murray said.

The adoption of minimum pricing in countries such as Canada have been shown to substantial prompt decrease the number of deaths due to alcohol and the number of hospital admissions. Data from the RCPI policy group on alcohol also directly shows that increases in the price of beer and spirits leads to falls in consumption of these products. For example a 20 per cent increase in the price of beer may result in a 7 per cent fall in consumption while a 20 per cent increase in the price of spirits may reduce consumption by 10 per cent.

For further information contact:

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