Irish people drank an average of 5% more alcohol last year than the previous year, according to an analysis of official figures by Alcohol Action Ireland.
The action group said provisional figures released by Revenue indicate that per capita alcohol consumption was 11.46 litres of pure alcohol per person aged 15 and over in 2016.
It said this represents a 4.8% rise on 2015, when it was 10.93 litres.
The lobby group said data on ‘clearance’ — quantities of alcohol on which excise duty is paid — were: spirits (up 9%), cider (up 8.5%), wine (up 6%), and beer (up 4%).
“These figures reflect the fact that we continue to consume high levels of alcohol in Ireland and, as a result, we continue to experience unacceptably high levels of alcohol harm,” said Conor Cullen, head of communications at the action group.
He said international evidence shows that the higher the average level of alcohol consumption in the population the higher the levels of alcohol harm: “In Ireland, the harmful effect of our high level of consumption is worsened by our unhealthy drinking patterns, particularly the prevalence of heavy episodic drinking.”
He said the World Health Organisation found Ireland has the second highest rate of heavy episodic drinking in the world.
The figures compiled by the action group are based on data produced by the Revenue Commissioners on sales of spirits and cider, while the charity conducts extra work to determine clearance figures for wine and cider.
The group then uses population data from the CSO to estimate per capita consumption figures.
Mr Cullen called on the Government to implement the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill without further delay.
“Reducing alcohol consumption is the key to reducing alcohol harm throughout society and we have an opportunity to begin to tackle our harmful relationship with alcohol through the implementation of the bill,” said Mr Cullen. “It is beyond time that the Government acted to prioritise the health and wellbeing of its citizens over the objections of vested interests.”
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