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Calls for Ireland to follow as Scotland pushes ahead with minimum alcohol price

“Alcohol has been sold at pocket-money prices in this country for far too long now”.

File photo
File photo
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THERE HAVE BEEN calls for Ireland to follow suit after Scotland pushed ahead with plans to introduce a minimum price for alcohol.

Minimum pricing – which sets a ‘floor’ beneath which alcohol cannot be sold –  stops retailers from selling alcohol cheaply in a bid to prevent people from binge drinking.

The Irish government has been debating whether to set a minimum price on alcohol, with Minister for Health James Reilly saying he supports the introduction –  but a number of government ministers have said they are concerned about the proposal.

A judge ruled on Friday that plans by the Scottish government to set a minimum price on alcohol is legal after a drinks industry body went to court to say that the government did not have the power to implement such a rule as it would interfere with trade. Scotland plans to set a minimum price of alcohol at 50p a unit (59c).

“The ruling is a significant one, not just for Scotland, but also for Ireland and the other EU countries which are seeking to introduce minimum pricing to tackle alcohol-related harm,” said Conor Cullen of Alcohol Action Ireland.

Minimum pricing will help tackle alcohol-related harm by targeting the very cheapest alcohol products, which are those favoured by the heaviest and most harmful drinkers among us, as well as our young people.
These things have been sold at pocket-money prices in this country for far too long now.

Cullen said that moderate drinkers would not be affected by any change as minimum pricing would not apply to pubs, clubs and restaurants.

The World Health Organisation has said that tackling pricing is one of the most effective measures a government can undertake to reduce alcohol-related harms, Cullen said.

Alcohol has been estimated to cost the State €1.2 billion in health-related costs every year.

Read: Government failure to tackle alcohol abuse had “devastating” impact on society >

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