Umbrella support behind Oireachtas report on alcohol bill

An alliance of doctors, HSE experts, youth leaders,and campaigners are backing an Oireachtas Health Committee report on the forthcoming Alcohol Bill.

Umbrella support behind Oireachtas report on alcohol bill

More than 30 people have signed a letter saying the proposals will reduce the number of men, women, and children who die or are harmed by alcohol use.

The report by the health committee, published on last Monday, backed minimum unit pricing, health labels on bottles and restrictions on the advertising of alcohol to children.

“There is evidence to show all of these measures can help to significantly change our relationship with alcohol, save lives and free up our overwhelmed hospitals in a significant way,” the letter said.

It was compiled by members of a new body called the Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland, which brought together individuals including Frank Murray, president of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland; Orla Crosbie, consultant hepatologist at Cork University Hospital; Bobby Smyth, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist; Stephen Stewart, Centre for Liver Disease, Mater Hospital; John Hillery, College of Psychiatrists in Ireland; and Ray Walley, president of the Irish Medical Organisation.

Hugh Gallagher, GP co-ordinator HSE Addiction Service; Suzanne Costello, Alcohol Action Ireland; Mary Cunningham, National Youth Council of Ireland; and senators John Crown, Jillian van Turnhout, Mary Ann O’Brien, and Lorraine Higgins are also included.

The authors said alcohol consumption was “on the rise again” and that more than half of all consumers were classified as harmful drinkers. They said alcohol was linked to seven types of cancer and that there was no safe level of consumption.

“The lack of a progressive alcohol policy to date has resulted in children’s lives being blighted by alcohol misuse within their families,” the letter said.

Meanwhile, a report published by Galway Healthy Cities Alcohol Forum said there was “compelling evidence” that controlling price, availability and marketing were the cornerstones in reducing alcohol-related harm. The project includes Western Region Drugs and Alcohol Task Force, Gardaí and Galway City Council. It said early intervention can “successfully reduce hazardous and harmful drinking”.

It said that research indicated alcohol sports sponsorship exposed young people to high levels of alcohol brand images, with two references to brands every minute in English Premiership soccer matches.

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