Support for evidence-based alcohol policy in Ireland

First published: 09/05/2019 | Last updated: May 20th, 2019

Introduction

Throughout the past 20 years, national policies in Ireland have noted the importance of tackling excessive alcohol consumption. Most recently, the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill was published which proposes the introduction of minimum unit pricing, health labelling, advertising restrictions and structural separation. However, public opinion on its implementation has yet to be determined. Thus, the aim of this research was to examine the level of support for evidence-based alcohol control policy among the Irish population.

Method

A household survey with quota sampling in three pilot sites in Southern Ireland was undertaken. Thirty sampling points were selected in each area with sampling points representative of the population of each ward, and a starting address was selected (randomly) within each sampling point. Consumption, attitude and behaviour questions were taken from previously validated instruments.

Results

In total, 1,075 individuals completed the household questionnaire. Hazardous alcohol consumption was reported by 51.1% of the population, 31.5% of women and 69.8% of men. The majority of individuals (>50%) supported alcohol policy measures. These individuals were more likely to be low risk drinkers, older individuals, unemployed and report alcohol-related issues in their local area.

Conclusion

Over half of Irish adults are drinking at a hazardous level. The impact of this is seen in both personal and second-hand effects. However, in the shadow of Irelands Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, this research signals support for evidence based strategies including minimum unit pricing, a reduction in alcohol sales outlets and separate alcohol sales outlets.

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Dr Michael Byrne