Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Community and National Drug Strategy Jack Chambers has called on the Government to prioritise the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill in the wake of a new report which shows a frightening rise in alcohol related illnesses in Ireland over the past 20 years.
The report by the Health Research Board shows that the level of alcoholic liver disease has trebled in Ireland since 1995. Three people now die in Ireland every day due to harmful drinking.
Deputy Chambers said, “The latest figures are deeply concerning and more proof of the terrifying scale of the problem of harmful drinking here. Ireland had the fourth largest consumption of alcohol out of 36 countries in the OECD in 2012. We have arrived at this current situation through a combination of apathy and disinterest. Ireland’s alcohol problem was a ticking time bomb but, based on these figures, it appears this bomb has gone off.
“The average alcohol intake of 11 litres per person is massively ahead of the State’s stated target. Beyond the enormous public health problems that this is having, the knock-on effects of our excessive drinking is just as concerning when we see there were 160,000 alcohol related hospital bed admissions in 2013. This resulted in a €1.5bn cost to the tax payer.
Deputy Chambers also pointed out the worrying trends identified in the report among young drinkers, including those as young as 15 years old.
“Hospitals around the country are identifying health defects, particularly liver problems, among people in their teens and 20s which traditionally were only identified in much older people who have been consuming alcohol all their lives. This is arguably the most shocking finding and immediate action is required.
Deputy Chambers today in the Dáil called on the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to progress the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which contains a range of measures including minimum unit pricing and structural separation in shops selling alcohol, as quickly as possible.”