Alcohol in Ireland: Finding The Right Measure


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Pre-Budget Submission from Alcohol Action Ireland calling for the introduction of minimum pricing

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Alcohol in Ireland: Finding The Right Measure

  1. 1. Which of these items is the cheapest? Hint: It’s not always the waterPre Budget Submission 2012Alcohol in IrelandFinding the right measure
  2. 2. The following organisations supportminimum pricing for alcohol:· Barnardos· Focus Ireland· Rape Crisis Network Ireland· The Ballymun Local Drugs Taskforce· The Irish Cancer Society· The Irish Heart Foundation· The Irish Medical Organisation· The ISPCC· The National Youth Council of Ireland· The North West Alcohol Forum
  3. 3. €3.7 billion in avoidable alcohol-related health and crime costsOver €4 billion in austerity cutsWe need to:• Restore excise duty to 2009 levels - earn the Exchequer €178 million in additional revenue• Introduce minimum floor price for alcoholFive things you need toknow about minimum pricingIt will not affect the price of drink in pubs, clubs and restaurantsIt will not affect the majority of drinkers, only the heaviestand youngest drinkersIt will not lead to job lossesIt will not influence rates of cross-border shoppingThe minimum price of a drink is directly linked to theamount of alcohol it contains Crime Costs Alcohol has been identified as a contributory factor in 97% of public order offences as recorded under the PULSE system (Hope, 2008)
  4. 4. Counting the Cost The financial burden of alcohol-related harm runs to an average of €3,318 for each taxpayer in Ireland – yet the previous government cut excise duties in BudgetCheap alcohol in Ireland is fuelling a growing health 2010 potentially depriving the country of €178 millionand crime crisis that is costing us over €3.7 billion a in much needed tax revenue1.year in health, crime/ public order and ancillary costsincluding workplace absenteeism. As the country Add this to the fact that the cost of €3.7 billion infaces into a significant period of budget austerity and alcohol-related harm represents 1.9% of GDP incuts to frontline services in the region of €4 billion, it is Ireland, almost 50% more than the EU average ofimportant to remember that these €3.7 billion alcohol- 1.3% of GDP.related costs are avoidable costs. On a wider economic level it is estimated that we loseAccording to the Chief Medical Officer of Ireland, a €527 million a year in alcohol-related absenteeism and30% reduction in alcohol-related harm would result in alcohol-related accidents in the workplace. Irelanda cost saving to the Exchequer of €1 billion. relies heavily on external investment and is in direct competition with other lower cost base locations‘A 30% reduction in alcohol- to attract this investment. What is the damage then to the “Ireland” brand when major financial mediarelated harm would result in a report on Ireland topping the European binge drinking league?cost saving to the Exchequerof €1 billion’ The alcohol industry often makes the point that any increase in excise on alcohol, or reduction in alcohol consumption, will be bad for the economy, causingAt a time when we need to do more with less, we job losses and lost revenue. This argument is basedcannot afford the current price of cheap alcohol – a on the false assumption that money not spent onwoman can reach her low risk weekly drinking limit alcohol somehow disappears from the economy,for €6.30 and a man for under a €10, the averaged rather than it being spent on other goods or services.equivalent of an hour’s work on minimum wage. Counting the Costs2 €million % of total costs Alcohol-related illnesses 1,200 32% Alcohol-related crime 1,189 32% Alcohol-related road accidents 526 14% Output lost due to alcohol-related absence from work 330 9% Alcohol-related accidents at work 197 5% Alcohol-related suicides 167 5% Alcohol-related premature mortality 110 3% Total €3,719 100%1. The figure is based on the Department of Finance’s Tax Strategy Group 2010 alcohol-related excise calculations2. Counting the Costs figures from Byrne, S. (2010) Costs to Society of Problem Alcohol Use in Ireland. Dublin: Health Service Executive
  5. 5. Pre Budget Submission 2012 alcoholIreland Alcohol in action ireland Finding the right measure the national charity for alcohol related issuesHealth Costs Lives LostAlcohol currently costs the health service €1.2 billiona year, around 8.5% of the current health budget One person dies every seven hours(€14bn). The Chief Medical Officer of Ireland recently from an alcohol-related cause inoutlined the impact of alcohol on the health services: Irelandalcohol is responsible for 100 deaths per month, 2,000beds occupied every night in hospitals around thecountry, 30% of emergency department attendances One in four deaths in young menand 7% of GP consultations. A 30% reduction in (15-34) is due to alcoholalcohol-related harms would save 30 lives per monthand 600 overnight hospital admissions per day. There are almost twice as many deaths due to alcohol in Ireland than due to all other drugs combined Alcohol-related deaths almost doubled between 1995 and 2004* Counting the Cost3: Health costs Costs of hospital care to alcohol-related illnesses €500 million 42% Costs of GP and related services €574 million 49% Costs to mental health services €104 million 9% Total Health Costs €1.18bn 100% 3. Counting the Costs figures from Byrne, S. (2010) Costs to Society of Problem Alcohol Use in Ireland. Dublin: Health Service Executive * Calculation based on number of overall alcohol-related deaths in Ireland; deaths in young men statistic taken from Chief Medical Officer’s speech at Alcohol Action Ireland conference 2010; alcohol versus other drugs based on calculations from National Drug-Related Deaths Index; Mongan et al (2007) Health-Related Consequences of Problem Alcohol Use/ Health Research Board 03
  6. 6. Crime Costs committed in their area4. Affordability and accessibility are two of the key factors fuelling alcohol-related youth crime.After alcohol-related health costs, alcohol-fuelledcrime and public order costs are making the biggestdent in the public purse - with €1.2 billion of tax 85% of the Garda Youthpayers’ money being spent on dealing with anti-socialbehaviour, violence and vandalism. Diversion Projects putOf course, it is communities and families having to alcohol-related crime ascope with this behaviour that are paying the heaviest first on the list of offencesprice: 85% of the Garda Youth Diversion Projects putalcohol-related crime as first on the list of offences committed in their area Counting the Cost5: Crime costs Total Costs of Crime in Ireland €million Criminal justice system costs 319 million 27% Property/ health and victim services costs 435 million 37% Costs in anticipation of crime 64 million 2 22% Crime cost of lost productive output 171 million 14% Total Crime Costs 1.19 billion 100% Counting the Cost6: Criminal Justice System Costs Cost of Garda Siochana resources devoted to alcohol-related crime €191 million 60% Cost to prison service of alcohol-related crime €51 million 16% Cost to the courts of alcohol-related crime €77 million 24% Total Cost of alcohol-related crime on Criminal Justice System €319 million 100% 4. According to a 2009 study, Designing Effective Local Responses to Youth Crime by the Irish Youth Justice Service. 5&6. Counting the Costs figures from Byrne’s. S (2010) Costs to Society of Problem Alcohol Use in Ireland. Dublin: Health Service Executive
  7. 7. Pre Budget Submission 2012 alcoholIreland Alcohol in action ireland Finding the right measure the national charity for alcohol related issuesPrice and Alcohol, what’s become 50% more affordable than it was 15 years ago7. Furthermore alcohol prices in Ireland are fallingthe link? while average prices are rising. According to Central Statistics Office figures, average prices rose by 2.6%There is robust and extensive evidence from the in the year to September 2011, while alcohol pricesWorld Health Organisation to show that one of the fell by 1% in the same period.most effective actions a government can take toreduce alcohol-related harms and costs is to increase As previously stated, a woman in Ireland can reachthe price of alcohol. According to the World Health her low-risk weekly drinking limit of 14 units forOrganisation - when price increases, consumption just €6.30 and a man his low-risk weekly limit of 21levels fall, leading to decreases in alcohol-related units for around €10. When offset against even theharms and costs. As already stated, a 30% reduction lowest paid in Irish society - an average social welfarein alcohol-related harm would result in a cost saving payment of €180 or at €8.65 an hour minimum wageto the Exchequer of €1 billion. - then the affordability of alcohol becomes even more pronounced. A woman need only work an hour‘Alcohol in Ireland is 50% to earn enough money to buy her weekly low-risk alcohol limit.more affordable than itwas fifteen years ago’ ‘There is indisputableOne of the myths surrounding alcohol in Ireland evidence that the priceis that we have among the least affordable alcoholin Europe. Affordability factors in the relationship of alcohol matters. If thebetween price and disposable income. Ireland is price of alcohol goes up,one of six countries in the EU where alcohol has alcohol-related harm goes down’ World Health Organisation, 20097. Rabinovich et al (2009) The Affordability of Alcoholic Beverages in the European Union: Understanding the link betweenalcohol affordability, consumption and harms. Prepared for the European Commission DG SANCO by RAND Europe 05
  8. 8. In the retail sector cheapalcohol is being used asa draw by the big multiplesin order to attract customersinto their stores
  9. 9. Pre Budget Submission 2012 alcoholIreland Alcohol in action ireland Finding the right measure the national charity for alcohol related issuesLarge multiple retailers can sell alcohol very cheaply • Reducing consumption levels will reduceand can easily absorb tax increases by spreading pressure on essential services –additional costs onto other products. Small scale, 30% A&E admissions are alcohol-relatedindependent retailers lose out because they cannotcompete with the multiple retail giants. The consumer The Department of Finance’s Tax Strategy Grouploses out because while it appears they might be calculated the anticipated yield of a range of excisegetting a good deal financially at the till on alcohol, increases on alcohol products. Based on these 2010the retailers generally maximize their profits in other estimates, a restoration of excise duties to 2009 levelsparts of the store on essentials such as food. What could yield a total of €178 million.consumers’ till receipts do not show is the alcohol-related crime and health costs of which each tax An increase in excise duty complements a minimumpayer is picking up a €3,318 tab. pricing initiative. Large multiple retailers can absorb tax increases on alcohol and spread the costs acrossTherefore Alcohol Action Ireland, the national other products so that alcohol can still be soldcharity for alcohol-related issues, proposes two key relatively cheaply. Minimum pricing sets a floor pricerecommendations for Budget 2012: and cannot be undercut by loss-leading and below- cost selling. • Restore excise duty to 2009 levels which could earn the The price of alcohol influences the Exchequer €178 million amount people drink in additional taxes In 2009, the average Irish person aged 15+ drank 11.9 • Introduce minimum floor price litres of pure alcohol, according to provisional data. for alcohol That’s the equivalent of about 45 bottles of vodka or 125 bottles of wine. Given that one in five Irish adults don’t drink, the amount consumed per drinker is actually a lot more.Restore Excise Duty to 2009 LevelsThere are three key benefits to restoring excise dutyto its 2009 level:• An increased tax take will provide much needed revenue - estimated €178 million• Increasing the price of alcohol has been proven both internationally, and in previous Irish budgets, to reduce alcohol consumption which in turn will reduce health and crime related costs 07
  10. 10. Reduced excise duty on alcohol Time for a changeincreases consumption Contrary to popular belief, there have been very few increases in the excise rate in the past couple ofIn December 2001, excise duty on cider was subject decades:to a significant increase, and cider sales in thefollowing year fell by 11.3%. • January 1994 The most recent excise increase on beer8In December 2002 there was an increase in excise • December 2001 The most recent exciseduty on spirits - spirits consumption dropped by 20% increase on ciderin the following year which caused an overall drop in • December 2002 The most recent excisealcohol consumption of 6%: the first drop in alcohol increase on spiritsconsumption in Ireland in 16 years. • October 2008 The most recent excise increase on wineBudget 2010 cut excise rates on alcohol by around20% with a resulting rise in alcohol consumption, Budget 2010 cut excise on all alcohol by about 20%from 11.3 litres in 2009 to 11.9 in 2010.This was the first significant increase since 2001. Declining Value of Excise Duty The real value of excise duty rates (as a percentage of retail price) on beer, wine and whiskey has declined since 2000 due to ongoing trade led price increases and also because excise duties are set at a specific IMPACT OF EXCISE amount rather than as a percentage of price. CHANGES ON CONSUMPTION Litres Excise increase Alcohol on cider 15 14 13 12 Excise increase 11 on spirits 10 Budget 2010 09 cut excise on all alcohol by 08 about 20% 07 06 05 04 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 20108. October 2008 saw the introduction of a new 50% lowerrate for cider and beer of less than 2.8% alcohol strength by volume
  11. 11. Pre Budget Submission 2012 alcoholIreland Alcohol in action ireland Finding the right measure the national charity for alcohol related issuesMinimum Pricing - rejecting alcoholat ‘pocket money’ prices Five things you need to know Alcoholic liver disease rates and about minimum pricing deaths almost trebled between 1995 and 2007. Among the 15-34 It will not affect the price of drink year age group, the rates and in pubs, clubs and restaurants deaths increased by 247% It will not affect the majority of drinkers, only the heaviest and More than half of Irish adults youngest drinkers are drinking in a way which is already causing damage to their It will not lead to job losses health – that’s 7 in 10 men and 4 in 10 women who drink It will not influence rates of cross-border shopping (SLAN 2007, Department of Health) The minimum price of a drink is directly linked to the amount of alcohol it contains ‘Over half of Irish adultsMinimum pricing is a targeted way of ensuring that say they would supportalcohol cannot be sold at a cheap price. A minimumprice is the lowest price at which an alcohol product minimum pricing’can be sold, the cost of a product based on thenumber of alcohol units/grams of alcohol it contains.Put simply, the more units/grams of alcohol in abottle, the stronger it is, and therefore, the higherthe price. Minimum pricing will primarily affect heavydrinkers (i.e. those that drink most), as well as childrenand young people who are more likely to consumethe cheapest alcohol. Minimum pricing policy haspopular support with over half of Irish adults sayingthey would support such a measure9.9. Alcohol Action Ireland commissioned market research firm Behaviour and Attitudes to carry out anationally representative survey consisting of 1,000 participants. The survey showed a 55% supportfor a minimum pricing initiative (field work was carried out in September 2011) 09
  12. 12. Hospital and GP Costs10% of general inpatienthospital costs, 14% ofpsychiatric hospital costs,7% of GP costs and up to30% of emergency costsare alcohol-related
  13. 13. Minimum pricing and below cost selling –what’s the difference?The drinks industry is fragmented in its approach to pricing. Some segmentsare calling for a ban on below cost selling. Others, such as the VintnersFederation of Ireland, the most employment intensive sector of the industryin Ireland, support minimum pricing.Below cost selling Minimum pricing No agreed definition of how to Price simple to calculate,calculate and define cost price enforce and monitorNot clear if a ban would be A minimum price can besufficient to reduce alcohol calculated so as to have anconsumption as it still allows impact on alcohol consumption –alcohol to be sold very cheaply it can also be adjusted as factors affecting its impact changeUnit cost to retailer can varydepending on a number of factors Affects people directly in relationDifficulties in monitoring compliance to how much they drinkand securing convictions for below-cost selling was a key reasonbehind the repeal of the GroceriesOrder in 2006The price is not linked to thestrength of a drink – it does notrelate to the number of units/gramsof alcohol the drink contains 11
  14. 14. Health CostsOne in 10 cancers in menand one in 33 in womenare caused by drinkingEach night, 2,000 hospitalbeds are occupied foralcohol-related reasons
  15. 15. Pre Budget Submission 2012 alcoholIreland Alcohol in action ireland Finding the right measure the national charity for alcohol related issuesMinimum pricing will have least pubs and licensed premises is sold at a price well above the level a minimum price is likely to be set.impact on moderate drinkers Minimum pricing will not influenceBy definition, they drink less. Moderate drinkers rates of cross-border shoppingtend not to buy the cheapest products. The key factor driving cross-border shopping is the Sterling differential.Banning below-cost selling by itself while soundinglike a sensible policy initiative is recognized asbeing unworkable because of varying cost-base ‘By adopting thesecalculations, resulting in implementation difficulties. Aban on below cost selling would not achieve the goal proposals, Government canof reducing alcohol-related harm and the associatedcosts as a ban on below cost selling would still choose to save frontlineallow alcohol to be sold very cheaply - especially if services, to cut the costscombined with another excise duty cut, which wouldreduce the cost base even further. In other words, to our health and justicethese policies are contradictory. systems, to cut workplaceMinimum pricing won’t affect jobs costs to the state andThe drinks industry provided 50,000 full time employers, and to cut theequivalent jobs in 2010. Minimum pricing will have cost of our emergency andno impact on jobs. In fact, it could serve to protectjobs in small businesses by creating a level playing policing services’field with the retail giants who use cut-price alcoholto attract customers to their supermarkets rather thanbuying alcohol from independent off-licences. SummaryThe Vintner’s Federation of Ireland, which represents Government has a particular responsibility in tacklingthe most employment intensive segment of the the damage caused by alcohol use and in reducingindustry, supports minimum pricing. the cost of that damage. By adopting these proposals, Government can choose to save frontline services, to cut the costs to our health and justice systems, to cutMinimum pricing will have no workplace costs to the state and employers, and toimpact on pub prices cut the cost of our emergency and policing services. These measures will provide a cost-effective returnor the price of alcohol in other licensed premises such in a short time frame and may also contribute toas restaurants and clubs – minimum pricing brings up protecting jobs.the price of the cheapest drink and so only affectsthe price of cheap alcohol sold in the off-trade, such Can we really afford to run an alcohol-related bill ofas supermarkets. The vast majority of drinks sold in €3.7 billion in avoidable costs when frontline health services are going to have to close due to funding cuts – it’s a question for all of us but it is politicians that will ultimately have to come up with the answer. 13
  16. 16. The Case forMinimum Pricing
  17. 17. Pre Budget Submission 2012 alcoholIreland Alcohol in action ireland Finding the right measure the national charity for alcohol related issuesGetting the facts right on minimum price per unit/gramminimum pricing The rise in alcohol-related harms and costs is linked to number of units/grams in drinkthe increased availability, affordability and marketing of alcohol. Price is a key driver in the consumption ofalcohol. This briefing sets out the case for minimum pricepricing, spells out the facts and dispels the myths andmisinformation. As such, fewer resources would be needed toWhat is minimum pricing? administer, implement, monitor and enforce aMinimum pricing is the lowest price at which an minimum pricing policy.alcohol product can be sold, the cost of a productbased on the number of units/grams it contains. To Some of the commentators calling for a ban on belowput it simply, the more units/grams of alcohol in a cost selling are, in fact, calling for a ban on sellingbottle, the higher the price. As such, minimum pricing alcohol below the total taxation on a drink. i.e., belowaffects people directly in relation to how much they VAT plus excise. This is not the same as below costdrink. This means that minimum pricing will primarily selling as cost price (which can include costs such asaffect heavy drinkers (i.e., those that drink most), as manufacture, packaging, transport, etc.) has not beenwell as children and young people who are more likely included in the price of the consume the cheapest alcohol. A ban on below cost selling would still allow alcoholMinimum pricing will have the least impact on to be sold very cheaply - especially if combined withmoderate drinkers, as, by definition, they drink less another excise duty cut, which would reduce the costand they tend not to buy the cheapest products. base even further. In other words, these policies are contradictory.Why won’t banning below costselling of alcohol work? Why do we need minimum pricingThere is no agreed definition of below cost selling in now?Ireland, nor is there an agreed formula for calculating Reducing current levels of alcohol-related harms andcost price. Also, cost prices can change over time costs is good news for the taxpayer. The estimatedas well as differences in wholesale price across cost of alcohol was €3.7 billion in 2007, that’s anretailers, depending on discounts for bulk purchasing, average alcohol-related tax burden of €3,318 on eachproduct placement and promotions and other such person paying income tax in Ireland. Alcohol-relatedarrangements. Working out the cost price of alcohol harms cost the healthcare system €1.2bn, whilewould be a complex and costly exercise, making a ban alcohol-related crime costs €1.2bn.on below cost selling of alcohol almost impossible toimplement, monitor and enforce. The massive drop in the relative price of alcohol alongside the liberalisation of licensing laws whichBy contrast, the operationalisation of minimum led to an increase in outlets selling alcohol has fuelledpricing would be simple, as the cost of a drink can be a growing health crisis. The real price of a drink incalculated using the simple formula: Ireland has decreased dramatically due in a large part to the rise in incomes, making alcohol 50% more affordable than it was in 1996. 15
  18. 18. Alcohol has also become more available and is sold How does it work?in more outlets than ever before. Increased availabilityhas increased competition between alcohol retailers, Minimum pricing targets the sale of alcohol at pocketmostly in the off-trade sector. Cut price alcohol money prices by fixing a minimum price per unit/gramis often used as a draw, to attract customers into at which alcohol can be sold. A different minimumsupermarkets and shops. At current prices, it’s price per unit/gram can be set for alcohol sold in thepossible for a women to reach her weekly limit for low on and off trades. Minimum pricing brings up therisk drinking for just €6.30 a week while a man can price of the cheapest alcohol, while having little or noreach this limit with a spend of less than €10. The rise impact on the price of other the availability of alcohol alongside a drop in pricehas led to vast increases in alcohol-related harms andcosts. ‘Minimum pricing brings up the price of the cheapestCHEAP ALCOHOL: alcohol, while having littleTHE REAL COSTS or no impact on the price of other alcohol’• More than half of Irish adults report a harmful drinking pattern – that’s 7 in But isn’t Ireland one of the most 10 men and 4 in 10 women who expensive countries in the EU for drink (SLAN 2007, Department of Health) alcohol?• Between 1995 and 2004: This is probably one of the greatest myths about • alcohol-related hospital discharges alcohol In Ireland. The RAND report commissioned increased by 92% by the DG SANCO (European Commission’s • alcohol-related mortality almost doubled Department of Health) for the European Alcohol and Health Forum found that Ireland was one six• Between 1995 and 2003, there was countries in the EU where alcohol has become an 85% increase in the number of hospital over 50% more affordable than it was in 1996. discharges with alcohol-related intentional Furthermore, alcohol prices in Ireland are falling injuries while average prices are rising making alcohol relatively cheaper. According to Central Statistics• Between 1996 and 2002, public order Office figures, average prices rose by 2.6% in the adult offences increased by 247% year to September 2011, while alcohol prices fell by 1% in the same period.• Between 1996 and 2005 juvenile offences of intoxication in a public place increased 12 fold ‘According to Central Statistics Office figures,The cost of alcohol to the Irish economy outweighsthe benefits. If we are to reduce the costs of our average prices rose by 2.6%alcohol use, we need to reduce the levels of alcoholconsumed – this can be best achieved by tackling the in the year to Septemberprice. Alcohol is not an ordinary grocery or commodity 2011, while alcohol prices felland should not be treated as one. by 1% in the same period.’
  19. 19. Pre Budget Submission 2012 alcoholIreland Alcohol in action ireland Finding the right measurethe national charity for alcohol related issues “In 2009, the average Irish person drank 11.9litres of pure alcohol a year: the equivalent of 45 bottles of vodka or 125 bottles of wine. The figure in reality is probably higher again 17 18
  20. 20. Alcohol-related crime coststhe Irish State almost€1.2 billion a year(Byrne, 2010)
  21. 21. Pre Budget Submission 2012 alcoholIreland Alcohol in action ireland Finding the right measure the national charity for alcohol related issuesHow will increasing the price of the ‘There is a direct relationshipcheapest drink make any difference between the level of alcoholto how much people drink? consumed in a country and theThe price of alcohol is directly linked to how much levels of alcohol-related harmspeople drink. When price increases, consumption and costs’levels fall. Increased alcohol prices reduceconsumption leading to decreases in alcohol-relatedharms and costs. Why doesn’t the Government just increase tax on alcohol?The World Health Organisation’s (2009) review of 32 Large multiple retailers can afford to sell alcohol atalcohol policy measures found that alcohol policies extremely cheap prices and have the capacity tomost effective in reducing alcohol related harms and easily absorb tax increases by putting these increasescosts are policies which put controls on price and on to other products. Minimum pricing sets a flooravailability, drink driving laws and brief interventions. price and cannot be undercut by loss-leading and below-cost selling.Minimum pricing policy increases the price of thecheapest drink, which is the drink that tends tobe purchased by heavy drinkers as well as young But won’t the large supermarketsdrinkers. As such, this pricing policy has little impact make a lot of money if minimumon those who drink within low-risk weekly limits. pricing is introduced?Those weekly limits are 14 units for a woman and 21for a man. Large supermarkets who sell a lot of alcohol at cut- price will make the biggest relative financial gains from customers as a result of a minimum pricing policy.‘The price of alcohol is directly It is for this reason that the introduction of minimumlinked to how much people drink’ pricing needs be considered alongside an increase in excise duty so as to ensure the transfer of some ofWhat is the link between the amount this revenue to government.we drink and the damage fromdrink? Will minimum pricing have a disproportionate impact in peopleThere is a direct relationship between the level ofalcohol consumed in a country and the levels of on low incomes?alcohol-related harms and costs. Increased alcohol The simple answer is this will depend on howprices reduce consumption which will lead to an much alcohol someone buys. Minimum pricing,attendant decrease in alcohol-related harms and by definition, impacts most on those that drink thecosts. most. As we already know, a man can reach his low- risk weekly limit for less than €10 and a woman for €6.30 – around an hour’s work on minimum wage. If 19
  22. 22. someone is buying cut-price alcohol and still drinking Who wins? Who benefits fromat moderate levels, i.e.; low risk weekly limits, they willexperience a slight increase in how much they pay for minimum pricing?alcohol. The benefits of minimum pricing resulting in a reduction in consumption and associated alcohol-It is important to remember that alcohol is not an related harms are numerous. These include:ordinary grocery like bread or milk, it is a luxury good.It is also important to remember that people on low • Decreases in workplace absencesincomes suffer a range of health inequalities - i.e.; • Decrease in violent crimenutrition, education, access to healthcare contingent • Reductions in crime and public order offenceson ability to pay - that alcohol-related harms can involving children and young people and infurther exacerbate. the cost of responding to same • Reduction in social and health harms and costs forAt what level should a minimum the drinker and those around them • Large retailers cannot simply absorbprice be set? price increases as can happen with otherA minimum price needs to be set at a level the pricing policiesevidence indicates will reduce the burden of harmfrom alcohol use. To do this will require an analysisof the market, alcohol consumption and expenditure The benefits reach a diverse rangepatterns, among other data sets such as health and of stakeholders:crime data. • Moderate drinkers, i.e. those who drink within low risk limits, are least affectedTo maintain effectiveness, a minimum price will need • Heavy drinkers, along with children andbe reviewed on a regular basis and adjusted when young people, are particularly affectednecessary to maintain its value in line with inflation. • Small, independent retailers and off-licences put on a level playing field with large multiple retailers • It is likely that the decline in the volume of alcohol sales will be more than offset by the unit/gram price increase resulting in an overall increase in profit for retailers • Large retailers can raise alcohol prices to the minimum price without running the risk of losing customers to competitors**Based on University of Sheffield research on minimum pricingcommissioned by the Scottish Government (2009)
  23. 23. Alcohol Action IrelandButler Court25 Gt Strand StreetDublin 1T: 00353 1 878 0610F: 00353 1 874 9934Email: info@alcoholactionireland.ieNovember 2011