Irish adults drink in a more dangerous way than nearly any other country, according to shock statistics published yesterday.
The report of the Steering Group on National Substance Misuse Strategy reveals that the average Irish adult drank 11.9 litres of pure alcohol in 2010, corresponding to 482 pints of lager, 125 bottles of wine or 45 bottles of vodka per year.
"Given that 19 per cent of the adult population are abstainers, the actual amount of alcohol consumed per drinker is considerably more. While alcohol consumption has reduced since 2000, adults in 2010 were still drinking more than twice the average amount of alcohol consumed per adult in 1960," the report states.
It points out that Ireland's per capita alcohol consumption is 11.3 litres per adult - the tenth highest of 40 countries in 2009. The OECD average is 9.1 litres per adult in 2009.
Irish adults binge drink more than any other European country, with one-quarter of Irish adults reporting that they binge drink every week, the report reveals.
The Steering Group said if every adult (15+ years) restricted his/her alcohol consumption to the recommended maximum low-risk limit on every week of the year, the actual per capita consumption would be 9.2 litres of pure alcohol per adult (15+ years), or 23 per cent less than was consumed in 2010.
Over half of drinkers here have been identified as having a harmful drinking pattern. This equates to nearly 1.5 million adults in Ireland drinking in a harmful pattern.
The report says Irish children are drinking from a younger age and drinking more than ever before - over half of Irish 16 year old children have been drunk and one in five is a weekly drinker.
The average age of first alcohol use in children decreased from 15 years for children born in 1980 to 14 years for children born in 1990, according to the report.
The Steering Group identifies cheap off-licence sales as a contributory factor to alcohol misuse.
It says there was a 161 per cent increase in the number of off-licences operating between 1998 and 2010 and over the same time period the number of pub licences decreased by 19 per cent.
In 2010 the average cost of a 500ml can of lager from the off-licence was €1.77 while the average price of a pint of lager in the on-trade sector was €4.35.
The off-licence sector accounted for half of the alcohol market share in 2008 and, given the much cheaper price of alcohol in the off-licence, the volume of alcohol sold from the off-licence was much greater than that sold in the on-trade, the report reveals.
The Steering Group has proposed measures to curb alcohol misuse, including the phasing out of sponsorship of sporting events by the drinks industry and a 'social responsibility levy' on the drinks industry.
However, Government Ministers appeared to give a lukewarm reception to the report when it was published yesterday. Health Minister James Reilly did not attend the press conference launching the report and Minister for Primary Care Roisin Shortall did not stay to answer questions on its recommendations.
The report shows that the alcohol industry provided an estimated 50,000 jobs in 2008 and the alcohol manufacturing industry had a turnover of €2.95 billion in that year.
Govt report says end drinks sponsorship
Discussions on this topic are now closed.