Raising the price of alcohol would amount to a “war on the poor”, columnist Ian O’Doherty has claimed.
Since January 2022, retailers in Ireland have been required to charge 10 cent per gram of alcohol.
The aim of the law is to stop people drinking harmful amounts of alcohol and there have been suggestions that the price per gram should be increased.
“They just never stop, do they? - the people who want to interfere with our lives,” Mr O’Doherty told The Hard Shoulder.
“Minimum unit pricing was brought in in January - if you recall it was a particularly bleak midwinter - and the price of beer and cider effectively doubled.
“One of the most important things to point out is that it’s a war on the working-class and a war on poor people.
“If you like a nice Burgundy, those prices didn’t increase.”
The Scottish experience
Minimum pricing was first introduced in Scotland in 2018 and Mr O’Doherty claimed, “It’s not working there and it’s not working here.”
A study published in the Lancet concluded between 2018 and 2020 there had been a "significant" 13.4% reduction in the number of Scots dying from drinking related causes.
Professor Bobby Smyth of Trinity College said it was a proven way to reduce the amount people drink.
“The bad news for those of us who drink is that one of the factors that influences how much we drink as individuals and as a society is its cost,” he said.
“While the cost relative to income has declined - particularly in the off trade sector - that is going to be a factor that’s driving up use.
“If we want to reduce use and all the harms that flow from it, we need to increase costs in the off trade sector.
“So, we’d be hoping that Minister Michael McGrath will factor that into his deliberations when reviewing duty on alcohol in the next budget.”
Professor Smyth said other factors - such as availability and promotion - have an impact but cost is undeniably one of them.
“The WHO makes it very clear that pricing of alcohol is one of the things that should be targeted if you want to reduce alcohol related harm,” he said.
“The harms here we’re talking about here are pretty massive; there’s over 1,000 deaths a year.
“There’s 1,500 people in hospital tonight due to drinking.
“It’s not unreasonable that we would want to reduce those adverse health outcomes.”
Main image: An off license. Picture by: Alamy.com