Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on National Drugs Strategy, Jack Chambers TD has said that the figures released today by the Central Statistics Office which indicate that Ireland has the highest rate of binge-drinking in Europe among those aged 18-24; underscore the urgent need to pass the Public Health Alcohol Bill.
The 2014 data published this morning reveals that more than a quarter of men and over 15% of women aged 18-24 in Ireland engaged in binge drinking at least once a week in 2014. According to the CSO, this is the highest rate of binge drinking in the European Union.
Chambers commented, “It’s pretty stark that while the consumption rate of alcohol has dropped in Ireland over recent years, binge drinking has swept across the country among our younger generation in particular.
“It is my strong belief that this is in part due to the availability of cheaper alcohol.
“For a typical adult over 18, a session of binge drinking involves the consumption of more than four to six standard alcoholic drinks, depending on gender and weight.
“The impact of excessive drinking can have detrimental effects on a person’s physical and mental health; weight gain/bloating, low mood, poor immune system to name a few.
“For some time now, general practitioners and hospital staff nationwide have been warning of the immediate need to address the health defects that they have been diagnosing and treating in young people. These are problems which traditionally were identified in much older people who have consumed alcohol for the most part of their lives.
“Those that engage in binge drinking, especially among the younger generation, are very much known as price conscious consumers.
“If a 500ml can of beer or a 70cl bottle of vodka has a floor price of €2 or €20 respectively, this could have quite a positive influence on deterring excessive drinking habits. The introduction of minimum unit pricing on alcohol could significantly help to reduce the dangerous levels of alcohol intake that we are seeing as of late.
“Not to mention the longer term impact on reducing over public health, life expectancy and costs of healthcare.
“A combination of disinterest and inaction has led us to this current situation. Ireland’s alcohol problem has long been a ticking time bomb but, based on these figures, as legislators, it appears that we urgently need to do more.
He concluded, “In the wake of today’s data the Government must prioritise the passing of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill in a bid to address the terrifying scale of harmful drinking in Ireland.”