The introduction of minimum pricing for alcohol will reduce alcohol-related deaths by 200 a year, according to new research.
Alcohol Research Group in the University of Sheffield carried out the research for the Department of Health and concluded that a €1-per-unit minimum pricing law would reduce deaths, as well as overall consumption by nearly nine per cent.
The report, which was presented to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children found that, after 20 years of implementation, alcohol-related deaths would fall by 16 per cent. Hospital admissions, criminal offences and work absenteeism would also reduce considerably, the research found.
Leading researcher Dr John Holmes also concluded that the new regulations would also be good for retailers and pubs. Supermarkets will generate an extra €69 million as prices rise and pubs an extra €9 million as more people will be encouraged to go out for a drink.
High-risk drinkers would consume 60 to 70 fewer bottles a week, said Holmes, as people will adjust to rising costs. Although agreeing that low-income drinkers would be most affected, Holmes didn't go so far as to say they are being unfairly penalised.
"We expect that spending would fall in most groups as drinkers tend to reduce their spending and consumption to accommodate higher prices rather than spending more and maintaining their consumption," said Holmes.
The proposed Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015, drafted by Health Minister Leo Varadkar, will see the price of a unit of alcohol set to between 90cents and €1.10. Its aim is to bring Ireland's alcohol consumption, currently at 11.6 litres, closer to the OECD average of 9.1 litres.