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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 22 January, 2019
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'It will save lives': Irish alcohol groups on Scottish courts paving the way for minimum unit pricing

Irish minimum pricing legislation is currently before the Seanad and will be debated next week.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

ALCOHOL ACTION GROUPS have this afternoon welcomed a decision by the Scottish courts to allow for the minimum pricing of alcohol.

A decision made by an Edinburgh court paves the way for Scottish politicians to pass legislation which was first brought before their parliament in 2012.

Irish alcohol groups said this afternoon the move would “save lives and reduce alcohol harm”.

Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) legislation is currently before the Oireachtas and is due before the Seanad for debate next Wednesday.

Alcohol Action Ireland believes that stricter controls are needed to tackle the Irish problem with drink.

MUP is based on the amount of pure alcohol in a product, measured in grammes. One standard drink in Ireland contains 10 grammes of alcohol and the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill provides for an minimum unit price of €1 per standard drink.

A spokesman for Alcohol Action Ireland said this afternoon: “The targeted approach of MUP is important as the strongest, cheapest alcohol products are those generally favoured by the heaviest drinkers among us.

These strong, cheap alcohol products are also favoured by our children and young people, who generally have the lowest disposable income.

“Ultimately, this is a measure that can save lives and reduce alcohol harm in Ireland, as part of the range of evidence-based measures contained in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.”

Health

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly said the ruling has important implications for legislation in Ireland and hoped for the successful passage of the Irish version of the bill through the Oireachtas.

She said: “I hope that this verdict and that of the European Court of Justice last December will deter any similar challenges being taken against Ireland’s legislation.

“Any delay tactics by the alcohol industry to this legislation ultimately has a human cost in lives lost and health damaged.”

Cricket - ICC Champions Trophy - Group A - Australia v Sri Lanka - The Kia Oval The price of drink at the off-licence is set to increase in Scotland. Source: Andrew Matthews/PA

The Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) said this afternoon that they are reviewing the verdict from the Scottish court.

Director of ABFI Ross Mac Mathúna said: “We now need time to study the verdict of the Court of Session who have backed the introduction of MUP.

“We ask the Government to reflect on today’s decision carefully before similar measures are introduced in this country.

“Given that we already pay the highest price and amongst the highest taxes in the EU for alcohol, it’s evident that price is not a silver bullet for tackling alcohol misuse. We remain committed to working with Government and other stakeholders in order to address the issue of harmful alcohol use.”

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