Minister needs to implement Alcohol Bill

 

Sir, – The enactment of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill in October 2018 was a major step towards addressing the enormous burden posed by alcohol-related harms in Ireland.

The Bill involves the introduction of minimum unit pricing (MUP) to reduce the affordability of the cheapest forms of alcohol, the consumption of which correlates closely with harm. The recent news that MUP implementation may be fast-tracked has been met with much negativity.

On a daily basis, we deal with the devastating consequences of alcohol harm. We see young people die of liver failure, manage life-threatening complications of alcohol-related liver disease, and observe the multiple adverse effects alcohol has on mental and physical health. Our health service struggles to deal with the demand alcohol harm places on our emergency departments and trauma services.

Recent data from Scotland, the first EU country to introduce MUP, have shown a significant reduction in national alcohol consumption within just six months. This confers a great health benefit and cost savings to the government.

We urgently request that the Minister for Health prioritises the implementation of MUP in Ireland immediately to make a long-lasting beneficial impact. It seems that in Ireland, we have done the hard part by passing the Alcohol Bill; now it is time to reap the rewards, for our patients, and our health service. – Yours, etc,

Dr JOHN RYAN, Consultant Hepatologist, Beaumont Hospital; Prof STEPHEN STEWART, Consultant Hepatologist, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital; Prof DIARMAID HOULIHAN, Consultant Hepatologist, St Vincent’s University Hospital, C/o Dublin 9.