At today’s cabinet meeting the Minister for Health will seek Government approval to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol products as soon as possible. Stephen Donnelly is hoping to do this through the commencement of Section 11 of the 2018 Public Health Alcohol Act.
Alcohol consumption levels were at 10.07 litres per person in 2020, representing only a 6.6% fall on 2019, despite the closure of many premises for large parts of last year. Alcohol consumption has remained at around 11 litres per person since 2015. Eleven litres of pure alcohol is the equivalent of 116 bottles of wine or 445 pints beer per adult every year.
Despite concerns raised by retailers, the Government is likely to press ahead with the changes, without a similar regime being introduced in Northern Ireland – there are plans to introduce a similar measure in Northern Ireland in 2023.The Public Health Act sets a minimum price per gram of alcohol of 10c. This would mean that a can of lager will have a minimum price of €1.32 and a bottle of Chardonnay would cost at least €7.75.
Scotland, which implemented minimum unit pricing in 2018, saw consumption levels the following year fall to its lowest level in more than two decades.