The price of alcohol and public health


Sir, – In response to your letter writer (August 21st), minimum pricing for alcohol products, enacted in the Public Health Alcohol Act, is not a tax. Minimum unit pricing is a mechanism that ensures a floor price is introduced below which an alcohol unit cannot be sold to the public.

The World Health Organisation emphasises the efficacy of minimum unit pricing, outlining that “there is a robust evidence base supporting its effectiveness at reducing alcohol consumption and harm, particularly in the heaviest drinkers”.

Alcohol Action Ireland do not claim to oppose the alcohol sector nor do we purport to advance an “anti-alcohol” movement; what we advocate for is the implementation of public health alcohol policy, democratically approved, that reduces alcohol harm.

How the €3.78 billion off-trade alcohol market is distributed among commercial actors may well play on the minds of some economists but the impact of minimum unit pricing on reducing alcohol consumption and improving public health outcomes is proven, as early evidence from Scotland demonstrates.

The introduction of a social responsibility levy on all off-trade sales, as proposed in the National Substance Misuse Strategy, but opposed by the alcohol sector, can easily resolve any anomaly, and certainly help correct the consumption of “demerit goods”. – Yours, etc,


Head of Communications

and Advocacy,

Alcohol Action Ireland,

Coleraine House,

Coleraine Street,

Dublin 7.