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Tuesday 17 September 2019

Cheap shot as just 68c will buy tot of whiskey

Tipple: Alcohol Action Ireland believes that the price of drink is too low. Stock Image
Tipple: Alcohol Action Ireland believes that the price of drink is too low. Stock Image
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The price of alcohol remains so cheap that a man can drink his weekly safe limit for as little as €7.48, while a woman needs to spend only €4.84.

It means drinkers need to only shell out 56c for a glass of wine and 67c for a standard drink of gin in shops and off-licences.

A measure of whiskey can be bought for just 68c, according to the pre-Budget submission of Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI).

Safe weekly drinking limits for men are the equivalent of eight pints of beer or 11 small glasses of wine for women.

AAI cites the urgent need to introduce minimum unit pricing of alcohol, which passed into law last October but "lies stuck in political inertia".

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said yesterday: "The Health Minister wishes to implement the minimum unit pricing of alcohol products in order to reduce as soon as possible the significant health harms and financial costs of the way alcohol is consumed in Ireland."

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe was told the country is still downing around 11 litres of alcohol each year for everyone over the age of 15.

This equates to 41 litres of gin or vodka, 116 bottles of wine or 445 pints of beer for everyone over 15 years.

"Ireland's alcohol consumption is currently 80pc beyond global average, while our 18-24 age cohort continue as Europe's number one binge drinkers," said AAI.

It pointed out that the "central point of advice to Mr Donohoe is to maintain current excise duties on alcohol products and fix current rates to a cost-of-living index".

If the cost-of-living index rating applied to 2017 alcohol product tax, the Exchequer would be €24m better off, it said.

However, since the introduction of the euro, excise duties on alcohol products have only changed three times.

"This anomaly has ensured that the price of alcohol has largely failed to keep pace with inflation and so, in real terms, is increasingly affordable," AAI said.

The lobby group added: "This reality belies the commentary from the alcohol industry who demand Government action to reduce the excise rates yet are themselves responsible for the cross-the-counter consumer cost increase with beer, as an example, having been increased twice - over 6pc - by the dominant market player in the last six years."

The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland wants a 7.5pc cut in excise in Budget 2020.

Alcohol Action Ireland said the Government should "dilute the unnecessary subsidy awarded to the alcohol industry" which has enjoyed not just over €24m in foregone excise duties, but funding of €5.8m in 2018 for craft breweries.

It calls for funding for a "youth recreational activities allowance" to allow young people a social alternative to drinking in areas such as sport, music and clubs. This would place a "significant backstop" on the slide into harmful alcohol consumption.

Each year some 60,000 teenagers will be "all too early in their drinking careers", it said.

It's reported that one-third of 15-year-olds have been drunk.

Irish Independent

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