Alcohol-related harm costing the Exchequer €1 billion

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, is calling on the Government to implement budget measures that could earn the Exchequer up to €182 million in additional revenue and help reduce the estimated €3.7 billion in avoidable costs caused by alcohol-related harm each year.

In its pre-budget submission, Alcohol Action Ireland has requested the Government restore excise duty to 2009 levels which could return €182m in additional revenue and introduce minimum floor price for alcohol.

“At a time when we need to do more with less, we cannot afford the current price of cheap alcohol,” said Alcohol Action Ireland director Fiona Ryan. “Alcohol-related harm costs us an estimated €3.7 billion each year - which works out at a bill of €3,318 for every tax payer in the country.

“Our health services spend €1.2 billion each year – about 10 per cent of the current health budget - treating alcohol-related illnesses and accidents, while alcohol-related crime and public order costs us a further €1.2 billion.

“According to the chief medical officer of Ireland, a 30 per cent reduction in alcohol-related harm would result in a cost saving to the Exchequer of €1 billion.”

“The World Health Organisation puts alcohol as the third highest risk factor for death and disability in developed countries and states that price and availability of alcohol are the two key policy areas to tackle if governments want to be effective in reducing alcohol-related harm,” Ms Ryan added. “Alcohol Action Ireland is asking the Government to consider this fact in Budget 2011.

“Alcohol has become over 50 per cent more affordable in Ireland than it was 15 years ago. It is now possible for a woman to reach her weekly low risk drinking limit for €6.30 and a man for under €10. We are all paying a high price for cheap alcohol.

“Between 1995 and 2004, the number of patients admitted to our hospitals with liver-related conditions increased by 147 per cent, while alcohol-related deaths almost doubled.

“Today, alcohol is responsible for 100 deaths per month, 2,000 beds occupied every night in hospitals around the country, 30 per cent of emergency department attendances and seven per cent of GP consultations,” she said.

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