Warning over 'exceptional affordability' of alcohol — 17 units for just €7.65

Warning over 'exceptional affordability' of alcohol — 17 units for just €7.65

According to the survey, an Irish consumer can spend, on average, 62c on a standard drink of whiskey. File picture: iStock

Men in Ireland can consume their “weekly low-risk guideline limit” of alcohol for less than €8 while for women, it will cost them less than €5, according to Alcohol Action Ireland.

The charity, which is an independent advocate for reducing alcohol harm, state that “alcohol is so cheap in Ireland” that men can drink their weekly low-risk limit of 17 drinks for as low as €7.65, whereas women can drink their weekly limit of 11 for as little as €4.95.

The figures come from the group’s annual Off-Trade alcohol market review and price survey, which does not include licenced premises.

Alcohol Action Ireland claims that this shows the “exceptional affordability” of alcohol to everyday shoppers as they call for the minimum pricing of alcohol products to be implemented to ensure the “strongest, cheapest alcohol at very low cost” is taken off the shelves.

Commenting on the findings of the 2020 Survey, Eunan McKinney, head of communications at Alcohol Action Ireland, said: “The exceptional affordability of alcohol from off-trade sellers, across a retail landscape dominated by a few major corporations, continues to sustain Ireland’s excessive use of alcohol. As long as alcohol can be purchased at ‘pocket money’ prices, and so easily, the public health objectives to reduce alcohol harms will not be reached.

“We are now almost two years on from the enactment of the Public Health [Alcohol] Act and inertia marks the implementation of the central policy measures on pricing, promotion, and product information.” 

The survey was conducted over two weeks in July across three nationwide locations — one urban and two regional centres. It highlights that cider products remain the cheapest, strongest alcohol products available to the off-trade consumer, with beer coming in as the second cheapest ahead of wine and spirit products such as gin and whiskey.

Dr Joe Barry, adjunct Professor of Public Health Medicine, said: “Throughout the Covid-19 crisis we have witnessed a significant shift in alcohol use, with hyper-competitive pricing fuelling a massive surge in off-trade sales and an increase in domestic drinking. This temporary behaviour may well become a permanent lifestyle for many, which in time will only add to the already enormous public cost burden to care and manage the corrosive impact on individuals, their families, enterprise and across the whole of our society of alcohol harms.” 

According to the survey, an Irish consumer can spend, on average, as little as 44c for a standard drink of cider, 52c for a standard drink of beer, and 59c for a standard drink of wine. Spirits come in as slightly more expensive, with a standard drink of vodka and whiskey costing 62c and gin at 69c.

Professor Frank Murray, chairman, Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland, said: “The Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, has demonstrated, since his own innovative tenure as Minister for Health, that he has a strong commitment to objectives of public health alcohol policy. 

"The findings of the Alcohol Action price survey must act as a catalyst for the new government and Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, to honour, without further delay, its longstanding commitment to introduce minimum pricing of alcohol products."

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