Call to curb sale of alcohol
A leading public health specialist has made a pre-budget call for a national strategy to control sales of alcohol at discount in supermarkets and off-licences.
Dr Declan Bedford says the failure of successive governments to develop a national alcohol policy has had a “devastating” impact on Irish society and family life. He notes alcohol-related harm costs €3.7 billion a year, or 85 cent for every unit consumed.
Delivering the annual Irish Medical Organisation Doolin Lecture today, he says Ireland has become a nation of binge-drinkers.
“There are more places where you can buy drink in Ireland than there are shops where you can buy fruit, vegetables or milk.”
Dr Bedford describes the statistics around alcohol in Ireland as “staggering”:
* The average Irish adult who drinks consumes the equivalent of a bottle of vodka a week;
* Every seven hours someone dies from an alcohol-related illness;
* Irish people are now the biggest binge-drinkers in Europe and only three in every 10 Irish adults on a normal drinking occasion have two drinks or less.
The problem is not just confined to adults, Dr Bedford says. Half of all 15 to 16-year-olds have drunk alcohol and a quarter have been drunk in the past month. “Alcohol needs to be less available and more strictly controlled,” he said.