Affordability sustains harmful use of alcohol – Alcohol Action Ireland
An alcohol price survey by Alcohol Action Ireland confirms “the exceptional affordability of alcohol to every day shoppers” and reaffirms the necessity for the commencement of minimum pricing of alcohol products, due to come into effect in January next year.
Alcohol Action Ireland is an independent advocate for reducing alcohol harm.
Its price survey found that an adult male, consuming alcohol within the HSE low-risk guidelines can drink the weekly low-risk limit (17 Standard Drinks) for as little as €7.65, and an adult female, consuming alcohol within the HSE low-risk guidelines can drink the weekly low-risk limit (11 Standard Drinks) for as little as €4.95.
The survey highlights what the group calls a sophisticated pricing strategy for alcohol across the Irish Off-Trade market, “which enhances affordability at all levels of retail experience”.
It said its observation suggests compliance with Section 22 (Separation and visibility of alcohol products) of the Public Health Alcohol Act across the retail landscape, remains uneven and unsatisfactory.
Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications at Alcohol Action Ireland, said, “The affordability of alcohol from off-trade businesses, across a retail landscape dominated by a handful of major players, continues to sustain Ireland’s harmful use of alcohol. Whether drinkers are seeking the greatest purchasing power in discount supermarkets from Thurles to Terenure, or convenient stores from Waterville to Walkinstown, our survey highlights that exceptionally affordable alcohol is ever-present in every community across Ireland.
“With a minimum pricing regime to be introduced for 2022, it is evident that the alcohol producers and retailers are already shifting their marketing strategies to ensure retention of key price points. What this may result in is lesser multi-unit packs and perhaps a greater prevalence of smaller volume units such as 440 ml cans or 500ml spirits products.”
Dr Sheila Gilheany, CEO, Alcohol Action Ireland, said, “The unsatisfactory rate of compliance by retailers to match the regulations of the Public Health Alcohol Act, after having been afforded a two-year transition, is deeply disappointing. It demonstrates, yet again, an unwillingness of those hyper selling alcohol to respond to the spirit of public health initiatives.
“A generational shift in attitude towards alcohol can be achieved in Ireland but only if those at the heart of its commerce, act in manner that is compliant with the law,” she said.
The price survey conducted between 12-28 July, across four nationwide locations, two urban and two regional towns, highlights that cider products remain the cheapest, strongest alcohol products available to the off-trade consumer.
Beer products are the second cheapest ahead of wine and spirit products, such as gin and whiskey.