‘No Additional Health Benefit’ Dail to vote on alcohol price hike

The Irish government will vote this year to introduce minimum alcohol pricing as part of a wider Public Health Alcohol Bill. 

A vote in favour of the action would see alcohol being charged at a minimum of 10cent per unit. 

Bill Wirtz, Policy Analyst for the Consumer Choice Center has said that the act will have little impact on public health and an impact on the pockets of the most financially vulnerable. 

'The evidence in favour of minimum alcohol pricing is simply not here. In a 2013 review of 19 studies, only two found that found a significant and substantial reduction in drinking rates in response to alcohol price increases –and even these two showed mixed results.'

'Earlier studies found responsiveness to prices to be close to zero,' he said in a statement.  

Wirtz also suggested that as well as there being potentially no health impact, the increased prices will disproportionately impact lower-income individuals. 

'Minimum alcohol pricing is inherently a regressive measure, as it hits low-income households the most,' he said. 

'The measure is therefore not only failing to achieve its own objectives, it is also fundamentally unfair to a large segment of the population.' 

'While minimum prices tries to prevent consumers from pivoting to lower-quality products, we need to realise that funds are fungible.'

'Nothing prevents consumers from spending less money on healthy food or other essential items, in order to afford their consumption of alcohol,' says Wirtz.

Alcohol Action Ireland disagrees: 'In Ireland our unhealthy relationship with alcohol is taking a heavy toll on our society,' reads their online manifesto.

'We have one of the highest levels of both alcohol consumption and binge drinking in the world.'

'Our harmful drinking has a huge impact on our nation’s physical and mental health, claiming three lives every day. Beyond health consequences, the harmful use of alcohol brings significant social and economic losses to individuals and society at large.'

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