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winners & boozers New minimum pricing system for alcohol will hit low-income families harder

Prices in supermarkets and off-licences will rise, particularly for cheaper drinks with low prices, while top-end products will not be affected

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The price of some drinks is set to rise

The price of some drinks is set to rise

The price of some drinks is set to rise

A new minimum pricing system for alcohol that comes into effect from January 4 will see the cost of cheaper drinks rise significantly while premium brands may not see a price increase at all. 

The minimum pricing system calculates the cost which will be based on the amount of alcohol in the drink.

This will be measured in grams, with one gram of alcohol being priced at 10 cent.

With one standard drink containing an estimated 10 grams of alcohol, the minimum cost of a standard measurement of alcohol would be one euro.

Prices in supermarkets and off-licences will rise, particularly for cheaper drinks with low prices while top-end products will not be affected as they are likely to already be charging prices which fall above the minimum cost measure.

The new system comes on the back of a new law surrounding the sale and pricing of alcohol in Ireland that was introduced in May of 2021, in a bid to curb strong alcoholic beverages being sold at low prices.

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The price of alcohol consumed in upmarket lounges, hotels and private clubs would not be impacted by minimum pricing. 

The price of alcohol consumed in upmarket lounges, hotels and private clubs would not be impacted by minimum pricing. 

The price of alcohol consumed in upmarket lounges, hotels and private clubs would not be impacted by minimum pricing. 

The aim of the new legislation is to prevent strong alcohol being sold for low prices to curb over-consumption of alcohol among the nation's heaviest drinkers.

This decreased consumption is expected to reduce the personal harm associated with heavy drinking, as well as the impact of over-consumption of alcohol on families and the wider community.

Under the new rules, a bottle of wine is expected to be sold for no less than €7.40, while a strong wine at 15% alcohol volume will be priced at about €8.76.

Cans in supermarkets and off-licences will see the biggest hike, with the cheapest can coming in at around €1.70.

A pack of 24 cans of beer will cost a minimum of €40 which is significantly higher than the deals in supermarkets where they can sold for as little as €15.

Bargain spirits, such as supermarket own brands, are likely to see the biggest increases due to their high alcohol content and low costs, with a bottle of 43% spirits coming on for at least €23.70.

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Cheap, strong ciders will see the biggest price increase with a 500ml can of cider with an alcohol volume of 5.5% coming in at about €2.17.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said back in May that he hopes the new laws will curb binge drinking in young people.

“Ireland had the third highest level of adolescent binge drinking in the world according to data from a global study published in The Lancet in March 2019, while 2018 saw an 80% increase in the number of children under-16 admitted to Irish hospitals because of alcohol intoxication. 36 children in 2018 compared to 20 such cases in 2017.

“Addressing the availability of cheap strong alcohol products will reduce the disease and death caused by the harmful use of alcohol and will ensure that cheap strong alcohol is not available to children and young people at “pocket money” prices."

However, as it has been highlighted in a piece on independent.ie, repeated assurances were given by promoters of minimum pricing that the price of alcohol consumed in upmarket lounges, hotels and private clubs would not be impacted by minimum pricing.

“Further good news for this group is that most premium brands will see no price change," Sean Barrett writes.

“This is a notable change from excise tax. Alcohol consumption is thus presented as a problem of those with low incomes who don’t frequent upmarket lounges and private clubs and who can’t afford premium brands.

“Upper income groups can toast with premium brand champagne the introduction of minimum pricing in luxurious surroundings, happy in the knowledge they are exempt.”

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