Ireland introduces minimum unit pricing on alcohol

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Pic:gettyDA69
Pic:gettyDA69

Related tags: Ireland, Minimum unit pricing, Alcohol

Ireland has introduced minimum unit pricing on alcohol this week: which will apply to alcohol wherever it is sold.

Minimum unit pricing (MUP) sets a minimum price per gram of alcohol, meaning it cannot be sold for less than that price. It prevents strong alcohol being sold at low prices: aiming to target the heaviest drinkers. 

One standard drink in Ireland contains 10 grammes of alcohol. The minimum price for one standard drink will now be €1. Most alcoholic drinks are already above this, especially in pubs, clubs and restaurants.

For example, a 12.5% bottle of wine has 7.4 standard drinks and from 4 January 2022, cannot be sold for less than €7.40.

Alcohol consumption predicted to decrease by 9%

In 2019, on average, every person in Ireland aged 15 and over drank 10.8 litres of pure alcohol a year – the equivalent of either 40 bottles of vodka, 113 bottles of wine or 436 pints of beer.

Alcohol consumption is expected to reduce by almost 9% following the introduction of MUP, according to research from the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

The heaviest drinkers are expected to reduce their alcohol consumption by 15%, while people who already drink within the low-risk alcohol guidelines are expected to drink 3% less.

This should result in around 200 fewer alcohol-related deaths and 6,000 fewer hospital admissions per year.

In 2018, Scotland​ introduced minimum unit pricing on alcohol. Irish health officials point to data showing alcohol purchases in Scotland reduced by 7.6% in the year after it was introduced: the lowest level of alcohol sales since records began in the early 1990s.

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