Report warns 'universal affordability' of alcohol is hurting people's health

It says a "highly sophisticated pricing model" is being used

Report warns 'universal affordability' of alcohol is hurting people's health

A young man sitting beer drinking in Germany | Image: Julian Stratenschulte/DPA/PA Images

A survey of drink prices has suggested men can buy health-damaging amounts of alcohol for as little as €8.49, and women for €5.49.

Alcohol Action Ireland has released its annual Alcohol Market Review and Price Survey.

It says a "highly sophisticated pricing model" means alcohol affordability is universal throughout urban, regional or rural Ireland.

The group says: "It again demonstrates the remarkable affordability of alcohol to every day shoppers and the urgent necessity to implement the Public Health Alcohol Bill including Minimum Unit Pricing that will ensure the low cost of the strongest, cheapest alcohol will be tackled.

"Additionally, the survey highlights the sophisticated pricing model for alcohol across the Irish market that enhance affordability at all levels of retail experience and the scale of the Irish off-trade shared amongst a small number of major retail operators."

The survey - conducted over seven days from July 22nd across four nationwide locations, two urban and two regional/rural centres - highlights that cider products remain the cheapest, strongest alcohol products available to the off-trade consumer.

Beer products are the second cheapest, just ahead of wine and spirits such as gin and vodka.

The methodology used sought to establish the unit cost per standard drink: 10g of pure alcohol in each product surveyed.

A beer product that is 4.3% ABV (Alcohol By Volume) in a 500ml volume container, contains 1.7 standard drinks.

While a gin product that is 37.5% ABV in a 700ml volume container has 21 standard drinks.

Four glasses of beer pictured in a restaurant in Berlin, Germany | Image: DPA DEUTSCHE PRESS-AGENTUR/DPA/PA Images

The Health Service Executive (HSE) low-risk weekly guidelines on alcohol consumption for healthy adults aged 18-65 are 17 standard drinks for men and 11 standard drinks for women.

Alcohol Action Ireland says in line with its findings: an adult male, consuming alcohol within these low-risk guidelines, can reach the weekly threshold for as little as €8.49, and an adult female can reach the weekly threshold for as little as €5.49.

Dr Bobby Smyth is a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, and board member of Alcohol Action Ireland.

He says: "At this level of affordability, for a tenner you can buy enough drink to cause a fatal alcohol overdose."

The survey also highlights a 'sophisticated' retailing model nationwide - urban, regional and rural - by the alcohol industry and their retail partners, that maximises the yields from alcohol sales to retail partners.

Alcohol Action Ireland says in many cases, it is as cheap to buy gin or whiskey in a convenience store as a large supermarket - strong, cheap beer is often as affordable in small shops as it is in large supermarkets, and cider is universally cheap through all levels of alcohol retailing.

Ireland's off-licence holders share a €3.74bn off-trade market.