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Pricing survey finds weekly alcohol limit can be reached for under €8

Alcohol Action Ireland has called on the government to introduce minimum unit pricing.

Image: Shutterstock/Trong Nguyen

IRISH PEOPLE CAN reach their weekly limit for low-risk alcohol consumption for less than €8, according to a new price survey of the nation’s off-licences.

Research by Alcohol Action Ireland has found that Irish women can spend as little as €4.95 to reach their weekly limit for low-risk alcohol consumption, with the figure rising to €7.65 for men. 

The recommended low-risk limits for alcohol consumption in men is 17 standard drinks spread out over the course of a week, while the limit for women is 11 standard drinks.

A standard drink is a measure of alcohol and in Ireland, one standard drink contains 10 grams of pure alcohol.

According to the charity’s survey, cider is the cheapest product by standard drink, followed by beer, wine, gin, vodka and whiskey.

It found that Irish consumer can spend (on average) as little as 44c for a standard drink of cider and 52c for a standard drink of beer.

The average cost of a standard drink of wine in the survey was 59c, while a standard drink of gin was 69c. Standard drinks in vodka and whiskey products examined in the survey were, on average, 62c each.

The study was carried out in off licences over two weeks in July, in locations in Dublin, Sligo and Navan in a range of convenience stores, neighbourhood shops and supermarkets including Aldi, Centra, Dunnes, Lidl, Londis, Spar, Supervalu and Tesco.

In Dublin, a two litre bottle of cider with an alcohol content of 5.3% was found for as cheap as €3.79, while the cheapest lager – with a content of 4% – was €8.79 for 12 cans.

A 700ml bottle of whiskey with an alcohol content of 40% was available for €11, while an 11.5% bottle of wine was available for €3.99.

 Prices for the cheapest products were similar in Navan and Sligo. 12 cans of 4% lager were priced at €8.99 in Navan, while €8 was the price for eight cans of lager at the same percentage in Sligo.

Two litre bottles of 5.3% cider were priced at €3.79 in both Navan and Sligo, while wine at 11% and 11.5% was available in both towns respectively for €3.99.

Meanwhile, 700ml bottles of 37.5% vodka for €12.99 were the cheapest price for spirits in the shops surveyed in both towns.

The chair of Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland, Professor Frank Murray, said the findings demonstrated the need for the new government to introduce minimum pricing of alcohol products.

“Vital decisions, currently being put off or stalled by vested interests, will have to be made by this government,” he said.

“Minimum unit pricing of alcohol products, which offers significant gains for public health, must be implemented urgently; spurious economic rationale proposed by the alcohol lobby cannot be allowed to trump the health of a nation.” 

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The measure would provide a price beneath which alcohol cannot legally be sold, and would be based on the amount of alcohol in a product.

It is contained in a section of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 that has yet to be commenced by the government.

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