RCPI (Policy Group on Alcohol) Press statement on the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill

23/10/13

“We welcome the announcement today of the Government’s proposed measures to address excessive alcohol consumption, including the introduction of minimum unit pricing for alcohol. We already know that the effects of minimum unit pricing on alcohol consumption and alcohol related harms are significant. In Saskatchewan province in Canada, a 10% increase in minimum price was associated with an 8.4% reduction in overall alcohol consumption, and a 22% reduction in consumption of higher strength alcohols. Likewise in British Columbia, a 10% increase in minimum price saw consumption decrease by 3.4 % overall and there was a 32% reduction in wholly alcohol attributable deaths.

In medical practice, we see the effects of the consumption of strong cheap alcohol, and we welcome this measure which will target the problems caused by cheap alcohol, consumed, in the main, by problem drinkers and younger drinkers.

Alcohol misuse in younger people is of particular concern. Excessive consumption of alcohol in adolescence can have detrimental effects, as the brain continues developing from childhood through to early adulthood. We now see deaths from liver disease at much younger ages than in the past, and alcohol is a recognised factor in many young suicides.

Based on the proven link between alcohol marketing, the age at which a young person begins to drink alcohol, and the amount they drink, we welcome the proposed regulations on marketing and advertising of alcohol. The establishment of a working group to examine the issue of regulation of sports sponsorship is another positive step, and we acknowledge the priority given to this issue, evidenced by the fact that this group will be chaired by the Taoiseach.

We are also pleased to note that legislation will be introduced requiring health warnings and advice on alcohol products. We believe that such measures will help people to make decisions on their alcohol consumption that protect their own health and wellbeing and the health and wellbeing of those around them.

We believe that the measures announced today send a clear statement of commitment from government to protect and prioritise public health by addressing the issue of alcohol misuse, which is responsible for multiple health harms in our society. “