Majority support minimum price for alcohol


MORE THAN half of Irish men are against a ban on alcohol industry sponsorship of sports events as promised by the Government, a new survey has found.

However most adults (58 per cent) support a minimum unit price for alcohol, according to the survey by the Health Research Board released yesterday.

The survey examined public attitudes to recommendations in February’s report to the Government by the National Substance Misuse Steering Group. The group recommended a ban on all alcohol sponsorship of sporting and large outdoor events, higher excise duties on some alcohol products and the introduction of minimum pricing.

Almost half of adults (46 per cent) are against a ban on alcohol sports sponsorship, 42 per cent are in favour of a ban, with the rest undecided, the research found.

The issue of sports sponsorship by alcohol companies highlighted a gender divide, with more than one-third of women (39 per cent) against a ban compared with 54 per cent of men. The lack of support for an alcohol sponsorship ban at sporting events would be the “one disappointing finding” for the Government, Dr Jean Long of the board said yesterday.

The survey of 1,020 adults was conducted in May by Ipsos/MRBI and was weighted to reflect the adult population. Most adults (51 per cent) were in favour of retaining alcohol industry sponsorship of music events and festivals, with particular support among men and those aged under 44.

One-third (37 per cent) supported a ban at music events, with the rest undecided. However most people supported restricting certain alcohol advertising; ranging from 57 per cent support for restrictions on billboards and bus stops to 80 per cent supporting restrictions for cinema marketing at under-18 films.

A lack of responsiveness to price changes in alcohol was found. It would take a price increase of 25 per cent to get two-thirds of people to purchase less alcohol in supermarkets, the survey found. If supermarket drink prices increased by 50 per cent, a quarter of adults would not reduce alcohol purchasing, it found.

“It is possible that we would be prepared to pay more for alcohol than in the UK because we are heavier drinkers,” Dr Long said.

The report shows that younger people are more price-sensitive than the rest of the population.

Forty per cent of the 18-24 age group supported minimum pricing compared with two-thirds of adults aged 35-64.

The survey showed younger people “wish to have a very liberal approach to alcohol and to have very cheap alcohol”, Dr Long said.