Alcohol Policy in Ireland * the story so far

Fiona Ryan
Alcohol Action Ireland
Alcohol in Ireland: An Overview
Established in 2003/ work to
create awareness of alcoholrelated harm and solutions need
to reduce that harm
Run and
Steering group of National
Substance Misuse Strategy
Campaign: minimum pricing –
30 strong NGO coalition in
Campaign: children affected by
parental alcohol problems
Alcohol consumption in Ireland
increased by 46% between 1987
(9.8 litres) and 2001 (14.3 litres)
Alcohol consumption in 2011-2012
was around 11.6 litres – the
equivalent of every person aged 15+
drinking over 42 bottles of vodka
One in five adults do not drink
If every drinker aged 18+ drank to
their maximum low-risk weekly
limits, every week of the year,
consumption levels would be approx
9 litres
Over half of all Irish drinkers report
harmful patterns of drinking; 4 out of 10
women drinkers and 7 out of 10 men
who drink.
(Alcohol Use in Ireland, SLAN 2007)
ESPAD 2011 survey (average age 15):
One in four schoolchildren reported
being drunk in the past month, this
being the third highest rate of
drunkenness of the 35 countries.
Report from Department of Children/
State of the Nation’s Children/ quotes
HBSC 2010/ small decline in children
first trying drinking but numbers getting
drunk consistent with ESPAD
Every seven hours, someone in Ireland dies from an alcoholrelated illness: there are almost twice as many deaths due to
alcohol as due to all other drugs combined
Alcoholic liver disease deaths almost trebled (188% increase)
between 1995 and 2009. Figures also reveal considerable increases
of alcohol liver disease among younger age groups
 Among 15-34 years olds, the rate of ALD discharges increased by
275%, while for the 35-49 age group, the rate increased by 227%
 These increases suggests we are starting to see the effects of the
large increases in alcohol consumption up to 2003
Alcohol-related admissions to acute hospitals doubled between
1995 and 2008
The burden of most acute alcohol
related problems arises from
people who drink heavily on
Health care costs = €1.2bn
Criminal justice = €1.2bn
Road collisions = €526m
Lost output due to work
absences = €330m
To the taxpayer = €3,318
To the shopper - cheap alcohol can
be subsidised by increasing
price of other goods
1 in 11 children living
with parental alcohol
One third of domestic
abuse cases involve
Almost half of
perpetrators of homicide
1 in 11 people said they or
family member had been
assaulted by person
1 in 11 children living
with parental alcohol
problems: enough
children to fill Croke
One in 7 kids in care due
to parental substance
misuse problems
One in 9 kids witnessed
parental conflict due to
alcohol during childhood
Problems for parents are problems for children
Parental alcohol problems can and do cause serious
harm to children
Children often suffer the impacts of parental
alcohol and drug problems long before their
parent’s health suffers
Each dependent user of alcohol will negatively
effect the lives of two other close family members
One in eleven Irish children say parental drinking has a
negative effect on their lives – that’s 109,684 children
(ISPCC, 2010)
A nationally representative survey of 18-40 year olds found
that when parents drank weekly or more often:
 14% said they often felt afraid or unsafe as a result of their
parents’ drinking
 14% said they often witnessed conflict between their
parents either when they were drinking or as a result of
their drinking
 11% said they often had to take responsibility for a parent
or a sibling
 Impact did not differ according to socio-economic class
(Alcohol Action Ireland Keeping It In the Family Survey,
Fear and Anxiety
Conflict in the Home
Children take on Parental Responsibilities
Abuse and Neglect
Trauma and distress result when
“caregivers not only fail to provide
comfort at times of extreme stress, but are
themselves the principal source of that stress”
“They care more about drink than their
“When they are drunk they are in fighting
“He hits me in my sleep when he drinks.”
“It puts you off your work in school as you’re
thinking about it.”
“I don’t get to go anywhere or have fun the
next day because I’m minding my brothers.”
“It upsets me sometimes – I’m scared at times
as well.”
11 committees, 15 reports
1990 Working Group on Alcohol Policy
1996 National Alcohol Policy
1996 Oireachtas Committee on Licensing
2000 Commission on Liquor Licensing
2002 Strategic Task Force on Alcohol
Oireachtas Committees on Health, Arts,
2005 Sustaining Progress
2007 Government Advisory Group on
2009 Working Group on Sports
Sponsorship by the Alcohol Industry
2011 National Substance Misuse Strategy
2011 Oireachtas Committee on Health
Successive Irish governments have
consistently pursued policies shown to be
ineffective in reducing alcohol-related harms
and costs
No national alcohol policy
 Abolition of Groceries Order 2006
 Only three increases in excise since 1994
 Budget 201o cut excise on alcohol by 20%
 Budget 2013 restored it/ additional increase
on wine
 Increased opening hours
 Free movement of licences
Establish a Clinical Directorate to develop the clinical
and organisational governance framework to underpin
treatment and rehabilitation services
Develop early intervention guidelines for alcohol and
substance use across all relevant sectors of the health
and social care system. This will include a national
screening and brief intervention protocol for early
identification of problem alcohol use
Increase the price of alcohol so that it becomes less affordable
Introduce legislative basis for minimum pricing, along with a
‘social responsibility’ levy on the drinks industry
Commence Section 9 (structural separation of alcohol from other
products in supermarkets, etc) of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008
Introduce legislation and statutory codes to provide for:
 a 9.00 p.m. watershed for alcohol advertising on television and radio
 alcohol advertising in cinemas to only be associated with films
classified as being suitable for over-18s
 prohibition of all outdoor advertising of alcohol
 all alcohol advertising in the print media to be subject to stringent
codes, enshrined in legislation and independently monitored
12. Develop comprehensive outcomes and evidence based approach to
addressing needs of children and families experiencing alcohol dependency
problems. This would involve a whole family approach, including the provision
of supports and services directly to children where necessary
This approach should be guided by and co-ordinated with all existing strategies
relating to parenting, children and families and in accordance with edicts from
the Office for the Minister for Children and the Child & Family Agency
13. Explore extent of parental problem substance use through the development
of a strategy similar to Hidden Harm in Northern Ireland and respond to the
needs of children by bringing together all concerned organisations and services
14. Develop family support services
Widespread opposition in Government
to advertising and sponsorship
Minimum pricing has been progressing
in Scotland and England – to mixed
Department of Justice deliberating on
Section 9
Department of Health will draft an
action plan and this will be submitted
Cabinet for approval

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