- Additional steps needed to tackle off-trade discounts
- Cost of alcohol related illnesses must be addressed
Fianna Fáil has welcomed the government’s announcement that it intends to bring forward new laws to tackle alcohol misuse.
Spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs Robert Troy said: “We broadly welcome the measures announced today and urge the government to move quickly to draft the new Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. No-one can deny but that there is a problem with regard to alcohol abuse in this country. That is a problem that must be tackled.”
Deputy Troy also endorsed the move to take an all-Ireland approach in relation to minimum pricing. “Clearly it would not be feasible to implement such a measure if it could be avoided with a short trip to another jurisdiction.”
He added: “Ireland is currently seeing an increase in alcohol consumption within the home. One of the reasons often cited for this trend is the significant price differentiation of alcohol products between the on-trade and the off-trade. Not only has this affected social behaviour by discouraging people from consuming in pubs, but it has also been cited as a factor in the rise in binge drinking and underage drinking.
“Quite simply the price of alcohol is too cheap in the off-trade and the cost to society too severe not to take action in this area. The cost to the health system of alcohol related illnesses is approximately €1.2bn out of a total estimated cost to society of €3.7bn. Fianna Fáil proposed a ‘lid-levy’ in our pre-budget submission directed towards off-trade sales or in the absence of that the introduction of minimum alcohol pricing.
“We believe the time is right to restructure the licensing system in the off-trade to take account of the volume of sales / square footage of the retailer. It is illogical that a large multiple is currently paying the same (€500) for a beer license as a small independent retailer.
“It is vital though that any measures designed to curb irresponsible drinking do not hit those who enjoy alcohol responsibly. It is about securing a balanced approach. We will now look forward to the publication of the new Public Health (Alcohol) Bill and on the basis of today’s announcement I would certainly expect that Fianna Fáil will be supporting it in the Dáil.”