Imagine if newly elected President Trump came to Ireland. He says he is going to create a new alcohol industry, creating hundreds of jobs, wonderful marketing campaigns, sponsor leading sporting organisations and pay special taxes.
But in return, 3 people would die every single day. Our hospitals would not have enough beds for everyone. The Trump taxes would not cover the costs of dealing with the damage caused by his new industry.
In fact, new taxes of €1 billion euro would be needed every single year to pay for the damage caused by this new industry.
Most logical people would say, No thank you President Trump. We don’t want your new industry.
The alcohol industry is Our President Trump
Well it’s hard to believe, but that’s exactly the position we’re in with the Irish alcohol industry. Our taxes subsidise their profits to the tune of €1 billion every year. 3 people die every single day as a result of alcohol misuse. Alcohol consumption in Ireland is still too high. It’s nearly trebled since alcohol marketing got going as you can see from the image below.
But in the same way we’ve seen an American election campaign full of misinformation and scare tactics, we’ve seen the proposed new Alcohol Public Health Bill delayed again. Mainly due to scare tactics and misinformation by the alcohol industry. In just one 3 month period there were 40 contacts made to lobby about the alcohol bill. All about the damage that would be caused to sports, jobs, tourism, taxes, social life etc if the bill was passed. Nothing about the €1 billion annual price tag to us the taxpayers or the death toll, which is higher than road traffic accidents and suicides combined.
The Dall usher had to ask alcohol industry lobbyists to stop harassing Senators.
Three weeks ago, the Alcohol Public Health bill was debated in the Seanad. The Phoenix magazine (subscription needed) reports that as Senators entered the hallway leading into the chamber they were accosted by industry lobbyists asking them to vote against the bill. Eventually a Dail usher had to ask them to stop. The Seanad did not progress the bill
The Alcohol industry has millions in funding and uses this money to create all kinds of misinformation about the new laws and prevent alcohol being seen as a public health issue. They sponsor leading sporting organisations such as rugby. Government Organisations such as Healthy Ireland even support events which the alcohol industry sponsor such as the sports industry best mass participation award.
“We’re poor small retailers don’t harm us”
Any attempts to regulate the alcohol industry is met with calls of a “nanny state.” The industry have learned from tobacco industry tactics and set up all kinds of different organisations to lobby against effective government action to control alcohol abuse. For example, the RRAI says they represent small retailers who want responsible retailing of alcohol, but they can’t afford to physically separate alcohol from other products. In reality most of their members are the big supermarkets like Tesco who do special deals selling alcohol below cost. Then they reclaim the VAT.
It’s David against Goliath
Pitted against these huge powerful vested interests is the charity Alcohol Action Ireland. They have just two and a half staff. They’ve managed to keep the Alcohol Public Health Bill alive. It’s been watered down already since a previous version in 2008 was passed by all stages of the Oireachtas, but never commenced. So it is a real David against Goliath fight
You should be angry
Maybe you’ve blamed yourself for drinking too much. You have n’t realised you’ve been surrounded by positive alcohol messages all of your life, that all happy people drink. People who don’t drink often feel isolated and excluded. Even when we’re abroad our reputation as happy drinkers often follows us. Our culture now accepts alcohol abuse as a normal part of life. So most people now think alcohol is just like any other product you buy and not a dangerous liquid that can harm you without you even knowing.
Children believe being Irish means drinking
The research shows the majority of Irish children at just eight years old think being Irish means you have to drink. So with this kind of conditioning is it any wonder we drink too much?
Now we have a chance to make sure the next generation is not brain washed the way we are. But our politicians are giving in to alcohol industry lobbying.
Use your anger to help make a better society
I know we all got angry when we realised how well the alcohol industry works behind the scenes to make sure the Government does not take real action. That’s why we’ve emailed our TD’s and Senators. So don’t just get angry, take action.
Alcohol Action Ireland have made it really easy. All you have to do is click here to say you want effective action on Ireland’s alcohol abuse problem.
We can’t do anything about President Trump, but we can on alcohol
Reducing the €1 billion annual cost of alcohol abuse is totally possible. We could use this money to provide social housing for all homeless people and still have money left over to reduce our taxes. But we need hundreds of people to tell our politicians we want the Alcohol Public Health bill. At the moment all they’re hearing is the voices of the alcohol industry.
We can’t do anything about the election of President Trump. A man who thinks sexually harassing women is acceptable
We can do something about alcohol abuse. Together we can do something about alcohol industry attempts to appeal to women and target young people. We can stop creating another generation of brainwashed drinkers.
The Alcohol Public Health Bill is not a magic bullet, but is a first very important step towards tackling our alcohol abuse problem and changing attitudes.
Over 1,000 people have died since the 9th of December 2015 when the bill was first published.
Update 28th November
Further discussion on the Bill has now been deferred as Fine Gael could not agree on bill. If you don’t feel comfortable emailing your TD, please sign our petition here. Over 500 people have already said they want the Alcohol Public Health Bill.
Update 25th June 2018
The Bill has passed the Committee stage More details here.