Support grows for minimum drink prices

People are in favour of minimum prices for alcohol and bans on advertising, but are against ending sponsorship of sport and music events, according to a survey.

Four out of 10 people said that an immediate family member drank too much, with seven out of 10 people saying they know someone who consumed excessively.

Most of the findings of the survey, commissioned by the Health Research Board, back recommendations of a Government expert group on tackling alcohol abuse.

Dr Jean Long of the HRB said it was clear from the survey “people want something done about alcohol” and, if recommendations of the group were implemented, it could help reduce the type of alcohol-fuelled scenes at last Saturday’s concert in Phoenix Park.

She was speaking at the launch of the findings of the survey, Alcohol: Public Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviours, conducted by Ipsos MRBI.

The survey, of people over 18, found that 86% of respondents thought there was high rates of drunkenness on the streets and 70% said alcohol consumption was not reducing in Ireland. Other key findings show:

* 50% of people aged 18-24 said they would buy more alcohol if supermarkets cut prices;

* Prices would have to increase by 25% to get at least two-thirds of people to buy less;

* 52% said the price of alcohol in supermarkets had fallen in recent years;

* 58% said there should be minimum prices for alcohol, with 21% against.

“People make it very clear that price does affect their behaviour, particularly young people,” said Dr Long.

On advertising, the survey found that 76% of people said there should be a ban on alcohol advertising on television and radio before 9pm. Some 70% said there should be a ban on advertising on social media sites.

In contrast, 46% said alcohol sponsorship of sport should be allowed (42% against), while 51% said it should be allowed for music events (37% against).

“I think, if we look at what the people are saying, people want something done about alcohol,” said Dr Long. She said steps could be taken to limit the likes of what happened at Phoenix Park on Saturday.

“There is a national substance misuse strategy with good suggestions in it about things that could be done. Many people seem to agree with what’s in that and if these were implemented I think it would help what happened last Saturday night. It may not prevent everything, but it would help.”

Dr Long said that one “disappointing” finding for the Government was that most people were against a ban on sports and music sponsorship. But she said this should not stop implementation of other recommendations. “We cannot change the world in one day, so it’s best to start where we have support to start, that’s what I would say.”

She was surprised at the very low percentage of people (9%) who knew the recommended maximum number of drinks they can safely consume in a week.

* www.hrb.ie

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