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We're drinking less booze but are consuming it too quickly

We're drinking less often than many of our European counterparts these days -- but as a nation we're putting it away far too quickly.

Yesterday, drinkaware.ie announced its new 'Pacing' campaign, which is aimed at getting drinkers to slow down.

Chief executive Fionnuala Sheehan said that while we drank relatively infrequently when compared with our European counterparts, we drank more at a faster pace.

"There is still a need to address our style and pattern of drinking in Ireland," she said.

Alcohol consumption has declined by almost 19pc in the last decade and Ireland is now a mid-ranked OECD country when it comes to the amount we drink.

And when it comes to frequency, just 3pc of Irish people say that they drink alcohol every day -- compared with 43pc of people in Portugal.

Ms Sheehan said it was difficult to pinpoint a single reason for the big decline in average consumption from 2003 -- but said people had become increasingly aware of the dangers of excessive consumption, and the price of alcohol in pubs had increased, although it was increasingly cheap to buy elsewhere.

But while most save enjoying a drink for the weekend, Irish drinkers tend to consume too much, too quickly, when they get there.

Research by Millward Browne Lansdowne revealed that the average number of drinks consumed by Irish drinkers in a night was 5.6 in the pub and 4.2 at home.

Younger drinkers tended to drink larger amounts faster.

Ms Sheehan said that the ideal pace was one drink an hour, which is the amount that the body can process in that time.

She highlighted the practice of drinking in rounds, which often resulted in groups drinking to the pace of the fastest drinker, and "pre-loading" by drinking at home.

A new TV advertisement will air next week with the aim of convincing people to drink at their own pace.

Forced

The ad, which was unveiled yesterday, depicts people enjoying nights out but being forced to drink by hands that aren't their own.

Radio ads will also run.

Launching the campaign, garda chief superintendent Michael O'Sullivan welcomed progress that had been made in alcohol awareness.

He pointed at that when alcohol was involved, a minor incident could in a "split second" lead to a far more serious one -- such as assault on a garda, which can carry a sentence of seven years in prison.

He also said that the recent St Patrick's Day celebrations were the most peaceful in recent years, despite a reduction in the number of gardai on the streets.

Irish Independent