Half of alcohol drinkers 'damaging their health'

 

HALF OF all people who drink alcohol in Ireland do so at levels that are damaging their health, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

Every member of the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children who spoke on the issue yesterday said the price of drink must be increased significantly if the “escalating crisis” of alcohol abuse was to be tackled.

The committee was told that alcohol was so cheap that a woman could drink her safe weekly limit for €7 and a man could for less than €10.

The committee heard yesterday from representatives of the drinks industry as well as from Alcohol Action Ireland, a lobby group campaigning on alcohol-related issues.

Fiona Ryan, director of Alcohol Action Ireland, said people were drinking an average of 11.9 litres of pure alcohol a year, which works out at 45 bottles of vodka or 125 bottles of wine.

“When you consider the fact that 20 per cent of Irish people say they don’t drink at all, you have to wonder who is drinking all this,” Ms Ryan said.

“If we were all drinking at our weekly low-risk limit, the figure would be 8.8 litres in a year. The fact is we are not. Half of us are drinking at levels that are dangerous to our health.”

The group is calling for a floor minimum price per unit of alcohol.

Pádraig Cribben of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland said the abolition of the Groceries Order had allowed supermarkets “to sell alcohol at prices that publicans could not dream of even purchasing it”.

He called for a minimum price per unit of alcohol and a ban on alcohol advertising in newspapers.