THE GOVERNMENT IS looking at introducing minimum prices for alcohol in a bid to combat alcohol misuse, a Minister at the Department of Health has confirmed.
The move would target supermarkets to stop them from selling low-cost alcohol. It is one of several measures being considered by the government to combat problem drinking.
Minister of State at the Department of Health Roisin Shortall said this morning that exact price increases have yet to be decided.
The Sunday Times yesterday suggested that cheap beer could be doubled in price and €4 could be added to the price of own-brand vodka in supermarkets if the new legislation is introduced.
“There is a general sense in the country at the moment that we’ve had enough – that we have a very unhealthy relationship with alcohol,” Roisin Shortall said on RTE Radio’s Morning Ireland this morning.
Shortall stated that alcohol costs the State €3.7 billion every year in illness, absenteeism and crime
The Minister said that the move wouldn’t just target teenagers who buy cheap cans of alcohol from supermarkets but other groups in society such as middle-aged women who drink glasses of wine before bed and older men who drink too many pints.
“We need to address this problem of the central place that alcohol has in our society,” said Shortall, adding that as well as price, the government would be looking at the widespread availability of alcohol and also how and where it is advertised.
The Minister said that she is not talking about banning alcohol at this state but instead looking at restrictions to “denormalise” it.
Irish publicans backed the Minister late last year when the idea of a minimum price in supermarkets was first mooted, saying that it would be good for jobs in the industry.
The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland said at the time that alcohol was being promoted and marketed in an “irresponsible fashion” in supermarkets, leading to social problems due to the “dangerous and uncontrolled consumption of alcohol”.
A poll on TheJournal.ie in November found that almost three-quarters of respondents were against the introduction of a minimum price being introduced on alcohol.