The vast majority of Irish people consume alcohol moderately and responsibly. It is in our industry’s interest to ensure that remains the case and to help reduce alcohol misuse, whenever possible.
Per capita consumption levels in Ireland have fallen by a significant 24.8% since its peak rate in 2001. The consumption rate in 2019 stands at 10.856 litres per adult (LPA), which means Irish drinkers are approaching the OECD EU average of 10.068 LPA.
As part of the industry’s drive to inform the public about the dangers of excessive drinking it set up the DrinkAware charity. DrinkAware aims to prevent and reduce alcohol misuse through evidence-based programmes. The charity is directly funded by the drinks companies and governed by an independent voluntary board. Its ultimate aim is to delay the age of a person’s first drink and to reduce the numbers of adults that drink above the HSE low-risk weekly drinking guidelines.
The HSE’s low risk weekly drinking guidelines include:
- 11 standard drinks (110g pure alcohol) spread out over the week for women, with at least two alcohol-free days.
- 17 standard drinks (170g pure alcohol) spread out over the week for men, with at least two alcohol-free days.
Underage drinking in Ireland has fallen in recent years according to the most recent survey by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). The report found that 41% of adolescents in Ireland admitting having used alcohol in the previous month which were levels slightly below the European average. However, the report stated that 16% said they had become intoxicated in the previous month compared to the European average of 13%.
The EMCDDA shows that the general trend across Europe show the trend has been downward since a peak in 2003 and the lowest recorded level of binge drinking among European teenagers in over a decade.
According to the HSE, Binge drinking is defined as drinking six or more standard drinks in one sitting. Common examples of one standard drink are a half pint of lager/stout/cider, a 100ml glass of wine or pub measure (35.5ml) of spirits. On average, it takes one hour for the body to process one standard drink.
There has been a marginal decline in the rate of binge drinking in Ireland. The 2018 Healthy Ireland Survey, a report commissioned by the Department of Health, showed that 37% of drinkers binge drink on a typical drinking occasion while 22% of drinkers binge drink at least once a week. In 2015 the Health Ireland Survey showed that 39% of drinkers binge drink on a typical drinking occasion with 24% doing so at least once a week.
Drinks Ireland has been consistent in its opposition to drink-driving. The drinks industry has always supported Road Safety Authority campaigns to tackle drink driving and welcomed the Government’s 2018 Road Traffic Amendment Bill from the Government which will ensure that those convicted of drink-driving will automatically be disqualified from driving.
The drinks industry fully supports the Blood Alcohol Content limits of 50 milligrams (mg) for all drivers and 20 milligrams (mg) for learner, newly qualified drivers (for a period of two years after passing the driving test). In addition, Drinks Ireland fully support the existing practice of random breath testing on Irish roads.
While there has been a welcome cultural shift in recent decades in people’s attitude towards drink driving, the issue persists. According to a 2017 Road Safety Authority report on drink driving, alcohol is a factor in 38% of road fatalities, 29% of all alcohol related collisions involved a driver and 9% of all alcohol related collisions involved a pedestrian.
According to the most recent data from the CSO, drink driving arrests in 2019 went down by 6.7% compared to the previous year.
Drinks Ireland has always supported evidence-based solutions into tackling alcohol misuse. To be effective, alcohol policies must strike a balance and serve the interests of individuals and society alike. Consumer interests and producer interests must be aligned. By implementing a better policy, it is possible to achieve the need for a thriving economy and maintain a safe environment.