Last week we described how the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which aims to reduce Irish drinking was delayed yet again.
Good news at last
Well the good news is this week, after another long winded debate the bill actually passed thought the Dail. There was even a round of applause after the bill passed.
A small number of TD’s attempted to delay the bill yet again. Many with personal connections to the alcohol industry.
Reducing Irish drinking
Minister for Health, Simon Harris said:
“This is the first time in the history of our State we have endeavoured to use public health legislation to address issues in relation to alcohol. It is therefore a ground-breaking measure.
“For the very first time in our history we are legislating for alcohol as it affects our health and it is right and proper that we do that.
“We know that we have a relationship with alcohol in this country that is not good, that damages our health, harms our communities, and harms many families,” he said.
“The measures in this bill will make a real difference to change the culture of drinking in Ireland.”
How will this affect me?
So how will this affect drinkers? Well, there will be health warnings on alcohol and alcohol will have to be sold in a separate part of the shop.
The biggest impact though is something called minimum unit pricing.
What this means is the price of alcohol will be related to how strong the alcohol is.
To set the minimum price for a particular alcohol product, you find how much the drink weighs in alcohol strength and multiply it by 10 cent. The Bill uses a specific formula.
A bottle of wine will be €7.10
So taking a bottle of wine of 750ml with 12% strength.
That would give
750 *.12 * .789 (figure specified in bill) which gives 71.01.
Multiply this by 10 cents and it gives a price of €7.10
So retailers won’t be able to sell this bottle of wine for less than this. It will mean selling wine below cost as a discount sales offer can’t happen.
A bottle of vodka will be €20.71
Taking a bottle of vodka say, 700 ml and 37.5% strength. This would give
700 * .375 * .789 giving 207.11.
Multiply this by 10 cents gives €20.71.
So this will be the minimum price of vodka. While vodka’s normal price is €25 and upwards, there are often special offers which reduces the price below this. You can even get it free sometimes as seen below.
Check out your tipple of choice
So using the formula you can now calculate how much minimum unit pricing is going to affect you. If you drink mainly in a pub or wine bar it’s unlikely to have any effect. If you normal pay €12 euro for a bottle of wine, you won’t pay more. However all those special deals for low priced drinks will disappear. No more €4 euro bottles of wine which were €12 euro.
Minimum unit pricing is pretty clever
A basic law of economics is the lower the price the more people will buy. (Except when it’s something like a designer handbag which has appeal because it is so expensive and exclusive)
So what minimum unit pricing does is encourage people to buy alcohol with a lower alcohol strength because it will be cheaper.
Young people tend to buy the cheapest alcohol because they have less money. People with a drinking problem tend to buy the cheapest alcohol because they drink so much.
So now these groups will tend to buy lower strength alcohol as it will be cheaper. Lower alcohol strength means less harm. So minimum unit pricing is pretty clever as unlike excise duties it targets people who tend to drink too much.
Can the minimum unit price change?
The aim of the bill is to reduce Irish drinking to levels suggested by the World health Organisation.
So if Irish drinking does not fall, the Bill gives the Minister the power to review the minimum unit price in 3 years’ time.
A final word
We got some fairly aggressive emails for our support for the bill. Shows the level of support for our alcohol culture. But we also got some lovely emails thanking us for campaigning for the bill. So thanks to those people. You know who you are.