Public Health Alcohol Act – time for action

 

Sir, – It is now two years (October 17th, 2018) since the enactment of the Public Health Alcohol Act.

While some aspects of the Act have been implemented, much remains to be done.

Many important measures, crucial to the objective of reducing alcohol use in Ireland, such as notice of licence grant or renewal; minimum unit pricing; the content of advertising; the labelling of alcohol products; and a broadcast watershed, have yet to be commenced by the Minister for Health.

The programme for government recognises that the Act has only been partly begun and that “longstanding” commitments needed to be honoured. The objective of this hard-fought legislative framework is to reduce alcohol use and harm, and aims to bring Ireland’s alcohol consumption down from 11 litres per capita to 9.1 litres. What is required now is a firm timeline that commits to the implementation, in full, of the suite of measures whose effectiveness relies on a coherent and cohesive action.

We appreciate the challenge of managing the enormity of a public health crisis such as Covid-19, which has derailed much of the Government’s ambition.

However, every day that delays these measures being introduced can be counted in lives unnecessarily lost.

In two years since enactment, the Global Burden of Diseases Study estimates over 5,500 people have died from alcohol-related illnesses and incidents in Ireland.

The annual public cost of this social and economic impact remains enormous at €3.6 billion, especially at a time when the exchequer struggles for resources.

We, as members of the Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland, are united in our commitment to efficacy of these measures.

Implemented, they will undoubtedly achieve better public health outcomes, and so we implore the Taoiseach, the Government and the Minister for Health to proceed, without further delay. – Yours, etc,

PROF FRANK MURRAY,

Chairman,

Alcohol Health

Alliance Ireland;

SIOBHAN CREATON,

Head of Public Affairs

and Advocacy,

Royal College of

Physicians of Ireland;

DR SHEILA GILHEANY,

Chief Executive,

Alcohol Action Ireland;

PADRAIG McGARRY

President,

Irish Medical Organisation;

CONOR KING,

Acting Chief Executive,

Irish Cancer Society;

SUZANNE CONNOLLY

Chief Executive,

Barnardos;

TIM COLLINS,

Chief Executive,

Irish Heart Foundation;

TANYA WARD,

Chief Executive,

Children’s Rights Alliance;

JOHN CHURCH,

Chief Executive,

Irish Society for the

Prevention of Cruelty

to Children (ISPCC);

ETAIN KETT,

Public Affairs

and Communications

Manager,

Dental Health Foundation;

MARY CUNNINGHAM,

Chief Executive,

National Youth Council

of Ireland;

FIONA COYLE,

Chief Executive,

Mental Health Reform;

DR WILLIAM FLANNERY

President,

College of Psychiatrists

of Ireland;

MARTIN ROGAN,

Chief Executive,

Mental Health Ireland;

CLÍONA SAIDLÉAR

Executive Director,

Rape Crisis Network Ireland;

IAN POWER,

Chief Executive, SpunOut;

CLAIREHAYES

Clinical Director,

Aware;

DONNA PRICE

Chair,

Irish Road

Victims’ Association;

MARK DELARGY,

Clinical Director,

National Rehabilitation

Hospital;

LIZ YEATES,

Chief Executive,

Marie Keating Foundation;

HUGH GALLAGHER,

GP Coordinator,

HSE Addiction Service;

CAROL MOORE,

Lifewise;

COLIN FOWLER,

Director of Operations,

Men’s Health Forum

in Ireland;

KIERAN DOHERTY,

Chief Executive,

Alcohol Forum;

DR ORLA CROSBIE

Consultant Hepatologist,

Cork University Hospital;

JENNIFER

McCARTHY FLYNN,

Head of Policy,

National Women’s

Council of Ireland;

DR AOIFE O’SULLIVAN

President,

Irish Student Health

Association;

ROLANDE ANDERSON,

Addiction Counsellor;

PROF JOE BARRY,

Adjunct Professor

of Public Health

Medicine, TCD;

PROF JOHN RYAN

Consultant

Hepatologist,

Beaumont Hospital;

JOHN & ANNE HIGGINS,

CATHERINE KEANE,

JILLIAN VAN TURNHOUT,

PROF GEOFFREY

SHANNON

Alcohol Action Ireland.