Ireland Will Set Minimum Alcohol Price To Curb Binge Drinking

By McCarton Ackerman 02/11/15

The Irish government is hoping higher prices will cut down on reckless drinking.

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After Ireland’s health minister declared a public health emergency over binge drinking, the country will now set a minimum price for alcohol and restrict its marketing.

Although the minimum price hasn’t been set yet, the goal of the new law is to reduce alcohol consumption to 9.1 liters per capita by 2020. The Irish currently drink 11.6 liters of alcohol per capita, which is among the highest in the 34 countries that are a part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Health Minister Leo Varadkar is hoping the minimum price will eliminate cheap alcohol from being sold in supermarkets, which he believes fuels reckless binge drinking.

"It's not an attempt to introduce a nanny state, we're not trying to close down every pub,” he said to Ireland's Newstalk radio. “It's just a response to the fact that the majority of Irish adults drink too much and many drink very dangerously…We will never be able to afford or sustain a quality health service into the future unless we bend the curve."

Alcohol makers will not be required to list calories and put health warnings on all beer, wine, and spirit products. Advertising for alcohol products will be restricted in newspapers, TV, and movie theaters. Any marketing geared towards children will be banned completely. Varadkar also hoped to eliminate alcohol companies from sponsoring sports events, but this was not successful.

The stereotype of the Irish being heavy drinkers is still alive and well, but a June 2013 survey of students at University College Dublin suggested that Irish people really do drink more than most. After surveying 3,500 students, researchers found that Irish students did consume more alcohol on average than international students from the US and UK.

Although the data deduced that those whose parents drank were also more likely to drink, the study also suggested a myriad of less-common factors could be responsible for the increased alcohol consumption, including attending same-sex schools and living in a town with a cricket club.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.