Findings of poll into Irish attitudes to alcohol abuse published

The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) has today published the findings of an opinion poll of public attitudes towards the problems of alcohol misuse.

The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) has today published the findings of an opinion poll of public attitudes towards the problems of alcohol misuse.

The poll, undertaken by market research company Behaviour & Attitudes, examined the public’s views on who is to blame for the problem of alcohol misuse and what they think should be done about the problem.

When asked without prompting to nominate who they thought was to blame for the problem of alcohol misuse, 31% of respondents spontaneously blamed “drinkers themselves” with 26% blaming “parents”. The proportion of adults spontaneously blaming these two groups has risen by 3 % points in each case over the past year.

Publicans and the Licensed Trade were blamed by 23% of respondents, 6% less than was the case a year ago, with 12% blaming the Government, a fall of 3%. Only 7% blamed “Alcoholic Drinks Ads”, a fall of 2%.

Speaking today, Graham Wilkinson Founding Director of Behaviour & Attitudes said that the research was designed to measure broad attitudes to alcohol misuse amongst the general public, based on the following questions:

The survey then asked what people believe should be done to deal with the problem of alcohol misuse. Again the survey first asked people for their spontaneous response – then for a reaction to a short list of options.

The survey also questioned this adult sample as to the seriousness of the problem of alcohol misuse. In line with the level of concerns expressed in previous such polls, 43% of adults view the problem as “Extremely Serious” with a further 35% suggesting it is “Very Serious”. A year ago the responses were 41% and 37% respectively.

In a related question, the survey asked people to comment on whether they regarded the situation today as “Better”, “The Same” or “Worse” than five years ago. 70% responded that the situation was “Worse” than five years ago – the same percentage as last year. This is a decline on the findings in the early years of the poll when 76% (2002), 79% (2003) and 78% (2004) said they thought the problem was worse than five years previously.

“This research confirms two important facts,” said Michael Patten, chairman of DIGI said. “Firstly, it confirms that the Irish public is concerned about the problem of alcohol misuse.”

“Secondly it demonstrates clearly that the public want the better enforcement of existing regulations rather than the imposition of new measures such as higher taxes or the banning of alcohol advertising or sponsorship.

“For our part, the drinks industry shares the significant level of concern about the problem of alcohol misuse and we are playing our part in responding to that issue. Specifically we have agreed to the operation of a comprehensive set of rules and regulations to reduce the exposure of young people to alcohol advertising and to govern the operation of sports sponsorships by alcohol companies.

“We have introduced an education programme for retail staff in respect of their responsibilities on the sale of alcohol and we have agreed a comprehensive series of initiatives – under the Social Partnership Programme – to tackle key areas of alcohol misuse.

“We have supported the introduction of random breath testing and we have lobbied for the introduction of an effective national ID card to assist the industry tackle the problem of underage drinking.

“We will continue to identify and promote areas where the industry and others can work together to reduce the problem of alcohol misuse.”

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