Alcohol consumption levels increased last year, driven by hikes in wine and beer sales, provisional figures show.
It comes as Dr Ciara Kelly, the only public health doctor on the board of a new Diageo-funded alcohol awareness campaign, stepped down — just three weeks after the group was launched.
While critics of the group said it undermined the credibility of the Stop Out-of-Control Drinking campaign, a spokesman for the body said her departure was due to “time constraints” faced by the GP.
New figures, revealed by Alcohol Action Ireland, indicate that, per capita, alcohol consumption rose to 11 litres last year, up 2.5% on 2013.
The analysis is based on CSO population data and provisional consumption statistics compiled by the Revenue Commissioners. The latter shows:
- 4% rise in beer consumption compared to 2013 — with 18.8m litres of pure alcohol consumed in 2014;
- 0.9% drop in spirits — with 7.2m litres consumed;
- 6.9% increase in wine — with 85.4m litres of liquid (not pure) litres;
- 0.4% rise in cider consumption — with 62.4m litres of liquid litres.
Alcohol Action Ireland said when standard alcohol purity volumes are applied to wine and cider — 12.5% and 4.5% respectively — it translates to 10.7m litres of wine and 2.8m litres of cider.
This brings the total quantity of pure alcohol consumed in 2014 to 39.5m. When this is applied to the population, it gives an alcohol consumption rate of 11 litres per person. This compares to 10.7 in 2013 — representing a rise of 2.5%.
AAI spokesman Conor Cullen said consumption fell by over a litre per person from 2012 levels due to a substantial increase in excise duty on alcohol.
A spokeswoman for industry body, the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland, said that since 2001 the average adult consumption rate had declined by 23% and that the long-term trend was one of declining consumption.
“The 2014 average adult consumption is still substantially below the 2011 and 2012 levels,” she said.
“Average per adult consumption is now slightly above 11 lpa. By comparison, it was just below 11 lpa in 1990 and peaked at 14.44 lpa in 2001.”
Meanwhile, it was confirmed yesterday that Dr Ciara Kelly — a GP and expert on Operation Transformation — had stepped down from the Stop Out-of-Control Drinking campaign.
She was the only public health doctor on the board, which is chaired by Fergus Finlay, head of Barnardos.
A spokesman for the campaign yesterday said: “Owing to time constraints Dr Ciara Kelly is no longer on the board of the campaign to STOP Out-of-Control drinking. She remains a strong supporter of the campaign and encourages others to get involved at www.rolemodels.ie and help shape Ireland’s plan to stop out-of-control drinking.”
The group — which Diageo is pouring millions of euro into — has received criticism, including from a new group of 50 people and organisations, including Senator Jillian van Turnhout, former drugs minister Róisín Shortall TD, ex-GAA president and coroner Dr Mick Loftus, and the Youth Council of Ireland.
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