By putting a minimum price of €1 per unit on sales of alcohol, almost 200 fewer alcohol-related deaths will occur per year in Ireland and coffers of retailers will be booster by nearly €70m, according to a new Government-funded study.
The research was conducted by the Sheffield University Alcohol Research Group and commissioned by the Irish and Northern Irish governments as part of plans to introduce minimum pricing. Details of the report were produced before the Oireachtas Joint Health Committee, and claimed an 8.8% reduction in overall consumption is possible from the minimum pricing introduction. Within 20 years, there will be 197 fewer deaths per year, a 16% drop.
There is also potential for an economic benefit from the new law, with supermarkets and local shops receiving an extra €69m in revenue and pubs receiving an extra €9m.
“There is strong and consistent evidence that price increases reduce alcohol consumption and related harm,” Dr John Holmes of the Sheffield University Alcohol Research Group told the committee. “Minimum pricing is a targeted form of price increase as it tackles the cheap alcohol disproportionately purchased by heavier drinkers.”
The report also claims that minimum pricing laws would not affect casual drinks, as they buy little of the cheap alcohol currently available in Ireland. “High-risk drinkers would, however, be substantially affected as they buy large quantities of the alcohol affected by the policy,” continued Dr. Holmes.
Plans for the new law are on hold pending the outcome of a decision by the European Court of Justice on Scottish government plans — opposed by the drinks industry — to implement minimum pricing. If it gets the go-ahead, the average price for a bottle of wine will rise to around €9.