Alcohol-related fatalities

 

Sir, – Your report on alcohol-related deaths among people who were alcohol dependent (Home News, July 14th) yet again underlines the grave levels of alcohol misuse in this country.

With over 4,000 alcohol-related deaths in a five-year period, mostly among people in the prime of their life, the serious threat to public health posed by alcohol is yet again all too apparent.

But while the figures bring into the sharp relief the scale of the alcohol abuse problem in Ireland, they also point to a need for urgent action in relation to the promotion and marketing of alcohol.

Significantly, the Health Research Board’s report concludes that there is no published evidence that school-based education and information programmes reduce alcohol-related harm. This is something which has become obvious to many people who are concerned with the seriousness of the alcohol crisis in this country in recent years.

For example, the innocuous information programmes carried out by the drinks industry over the past decades or so are totally ineffective and represent nothing more than a means of staving off the introduction of measures that could reduce alcohol-related harm among people of all ages in this country.

These include the imposition of increased taxes on alcohol, the setting of a minimum price per gram of alcohol, restrictions on the density of outlets, days and hours of sale, lower legal blood concentration for drivers and increased levels of random breath testing, in addition to consumer warnings that inform the public of the dangers posed by alcohol to their health and well-being. Reducing alcohol-related harm requires a robust public health policy. Implementing effective measures to tackle the problem of alcohol abuse among younger, middle-aged and older people will take courage and persistence on the part of our Government. Let’s hope we will not be disappointed. – Yours, etc,

DR MICHAEL LOFTUS,

Deel Medical Centre,

Crossmolina,

Co Mayo.