Concern as can of beer now costs less than a soft drink
RETAILERS are selling alcohol for less than the price of a soft drink, with a can of beer now costing as little as 67c.
Drinks campaigners are warning that the "pocket money prices" are allowing people, including youngsters, to get drunk for a few euro.
A survey by drink awareness charity Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI) has found that cut-price alcohol is readily available in a number of supermarkets.
The survey has shown that cans of beer are selling for as little as 67c, while it is possible to buy 700ml bottles of vodka and gin for under €12. Bottles of wine can be bought for as little as €3.97.
Charity director Fiona Ryan said low-cost alcohol could encourage young people to binge drink and argued for a minimum price for alcohol.
"In this country it's possible to get significantly drunk -- not just tipsy -- for €6.
"But the reality is that cheap alcohol could be costing every man, woman and child in this country €650 a year in terms of health costs, public order costs and car crashes," she said.
A large supermarket was found to be selling 26 cans of strong German pils lager for €18, or 69c per 440ml can.
"When you consider that there's 1.5 units in each can, that's the equivalent of 39 units. (Aside from) the low-risk drinking limit, that's almost three times the (weekly) recommended limit for women and almost two times the recommended limit for men," Ms Ryan pointed out.
She said that while there may be a perception that alcohol is relatively expensive in Ireland, particularly in the bar trade, figures from the Central Statistics Office showed that alcohol prices had fallen by 4.6pc in the past 12 months.
Calling for minimum pricing, Ms Ryan said alcohol should also be priced according to its strength.
"The Office of Tobacco Control estimates that teenagers spend around €20 a week on alcohol -- with low prices their money is going to buy even more," said Ms Ryan.
But supermarket giant Tesco said it always advocated the responsible selling of alcohol in its Irish stores.
And all of its store staff were extensively trained in the 'Think 21' policy -- with that age, and not 18, used as the benchmark to ask for ID.
A spokeswoman for Super Valu and Centra stores said all its supermarkets were signed up to a strict code of practice on the display and sale of alcohol in mixed trading premises.