herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

We're cutting back – but not on booze

ALARM: Call for new curbs as recession drives us to drink

Photo: Getty Images/BananaStock RF
Photo: Getty Images/BananaStock RF

TOUGH new curbs are being urged after it was revealed that alcohol spending has risen considerably during the recession.

While households cut back on clothes and other goods, many seem to have had extra funds for beer and wine.

Alcohol Action Ireland has said that serious action is now needed to change our relationship with alcohol.

According to the Central Statistics Office, Irish people are now spending more than €6.3bn on alcohol a year.

That means that twice as much is being budgeted for alcohol as is for clothing and footwear.

It is the second year in a row that spending on alcohol has increased and it now accounts for 7.7pc of total personal expenditure in the country.

Conor Cullen, communications officer with Alcohol Action Ireland, described the increase as "particularly worrying" and said that a national alcohol strategy is urgently needed.

"We must remember that alcohol is not a grocery or another everyday household item, even though this is how alcohol is currently marketed and sold throughout this country," he said.

"Alcohol is a very harmful substance that creates a wide range of problems for us," he added, noting that alcohol related harm costs the country more than an estimated €3.7bn a year.

He also said that three people per day die from alcohol-related illnesses in Ireland.

"Communities [are] plagued with anti-social behaviour and significant child welfare and protection issues, among many other alcohol-related problems," he said.

"These latest figures from the CSO only serve to emphasise the crucial need for the full-range of alcohol-harm reduction measures currently being considered by Government, particularly key measures targeting the pricing, marketing and availability of alcohol in Ireland."

Mr Cullen said that these measures have the potential to reduce alcohol consumption in the country and "the serious fall-out from our excessive drinking."

hnews@herald.ie

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