Cheap alcohol is going to be around for a few more years yet

Bill: Minister Varadkar said the new legislation may come into effect in 2017
Bill: Minister Varadkar said the new legislation may come into effect in 2017

Cheaper alcohol will remain on sale in this country for another two years at the minimum despite draft legislation that promises to outlaw it.

Speaking yesterday Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said the legislation, even if it is passed in the coming months, will take two years at the least to come into effect. 

He was appearing at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children when he responded to concerns about the length of time the legislation was expected to take. 

The proposed legislation, called the Public Health Bill, will introduce a series of measures to cut down on the excessive binge-drinking culture present in this country.

Its aim is to tackle the cheap drinks industry, and in doing so reduce the availability of cheaper alcohol which is fuelling the excessive culture. 

The latest Bill (Public Health) proposed will aim to tackle excessive consumption by introducing minimum unit pricing on alcohol, health warnings and information, more regulation on marketing and advertising, all of which will signify a determined attitude to reduce alcohol abuse in Ireland. 

The Minister for Health said the Bill, if passed, will come into effect in 2017.

Mr Varadkar said the reality was that people who were on low incomes were more likely to abuse alcohol. 

"There is a correlation between social class and alcohol abuse. In many ways, alcohol perhaps contributes to poverty and poverty contributes to alcohol," he said.

Speaking earlier in the week, Minister Varadkar said we need to examine ways of tackling the binge-drinking culture that is prevalent in our society. 

"Ireland has a serious problem – we drink too much alcohol", Varadkar said. 

"When we drink, we tend to binge drink. More than half of adult drinkers in the population are classified as harmful drinkers."

Speaking at the The Alcohol Forum conference this week, CEO of Alcohol Forum Kieran Doherty, said that over consumption of alcohol "affects the economy, local communities and families across the country and can be directly attributed to around 88 deaths a month."

It was announced at The Alcohol Forum that €1 million has been made available to tackle alcohol abuse in Ireland.