Bars of cheap beer are now a thing of the past, as the government’s minimum pricing for alcohol comes into effect today.
Under the new system, a minimum price was set for all alcohol products under which they could not be sold, meaning that heavily discounted bars of 24 cans of beer or cider should now cost around €40.
At SuperValu, a 24-pack of Guinness sold for 18 euros yesterday, but under new laws that same bar should cost at least 39.77 euros today. A typical beer can now costs between €1.70 to €1.80 while a strong can should come in at less than €1.70.
At Aldi, the biggest cheap case, the Galahad, sold for as low as 75 cents, but should now cost 1.57 euros. A bottle of 11% alcohol should cost at least €6.50 while a stronger 13.5% wine will cost a minimum of €7.89.
Popular spirits, such as Jameson and Cork Dry Gin, should cost at least €22.10 and €20.71 for a 700ml bottle. A 1 liter bottle of 40% alcohol will cost a minimum of €31.56.
Activists said minimum unit pricing for alcohol would save lives, reduce hospitalizations and bring societal benefits as well as savings to the treasury.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the measure is aimed at reducing the harm from alcohol misuse and delaying the start of young people drinking it.
«Addressing the issue of the availability of cheap hard alcohol products will reduce illness and death from harmful use of alcohol and will ensure that cheap hard alcohol is not available to children and young people at pocket prices,» he said.
However, retailers are concerned that the new measure will simply drive consumers across borders as no such system has yet been introduced.
Minimum rates were included in legislation passed in 2018 but successive governments have long delayed on the grounds that it was not introduced in Northern Ireland. In May 2021, the government announced that it would continue anyway as it could no longer wait for the North to take similar action.
The decision to go ahead will destroy retailers, said Vincent Jennings, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores and Newspaper Sellers.
“I represent retailers who are under a lot of pressure right now, especially since it’s very difficult to get and maintain staff.
«They’ve been through a war and you’ve given them a boost by effectively allowing this product to be exported.»
Alcohol Action Ireland welcomed the minimal pricing, saying it has the potential to reduce alcohol-attributable deaths by about 197 each year after 20 years, while there would be a reduction in hospital admissions and savings in the treasury from reductions in health, crime and workplace damage. .
Alcohol Action’s CEO Sheila Gilheny said the action could be a turning point in addressing the problems alcohol is causing to society.
«It will make an additional contribution to what we hope will be better handling of low-risk alcohol,» she said.
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