New alcohol laws put in place to tackle Ireland’s binge drinking problem

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New minimum prices on some alcoholic beverages will effectively ban the low-cost sales of alcoholic products.

The proposed law of a minimum unit pricing of 10 cent per gram of alcohol will mainly affect drinks with higher alcohol content levels and the majority of alcohol products will not be impacted at all.

The minimum costs under the new rules will work out as follows:

  • A 500 ml can of Guinness — €1.66
  • 750 ml bottle of Jacob’s Creek classic Chardonnay — €7.52
  • 700 ml bottle of Gordon’s dry gin — €20.71
  • 700 ml bottle of Smirnoff Ice — €20.71
  • 700 ml bottle of Jameson whiskey — €22.09
  • 500 ml can of Dutch Gold – €1.58

Minister for Health Simon Harris said: “This is about targeting the cheapest drinks which have high alcohol content and … we all noted it is about ensuring that we are having a particular impact on our younger citizens and the next generation of citizens and decision makers in this country.”

According to figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in 2015, nearly a quarter (23%) of Ireland’s young people aged between 15 and 24 binge drank at least once a week. In that study, binge drinking was classified as drinking six or more units of alcohol in one sitting.

 

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Sixteen percent of those who drink alcohol, stated that they have binge drank at least once a week, which is an increase from 13.7 percent the previous year.  This is well above the EU average of 5.6 percent in 2014.

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There is a significant difference between the percentage of Irish males and females who engage in binge drinking. In 2014,  just under one in six (15.5 percent) Irish women aged 18 to 24 engaged in binge drinking at least once a week, which is the highest rate in the EU, and well above the EU average of 4.3 percent. However, the male average was much higher at 26.8 percent for 18 to 24 year olds that same year, which was more than double the EU average of 11.7 percent.

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The proposed alcohol laws will most likely affect these statistics, as young people in Ireland may need to switch to cheaper beverages with lower alcohol contents, or engage in binge drinking less frequently.

By Alison Egan

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