The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has called for minimum pricing to be introduced on alcohol.
The IMO told the Oireachtas Health Committee that introducing a minimum price on alcohol would effectively reduce the burden of problem alcohol abuse of future generations in Ireland.
Presenting a position paper on alcohol to the Committee, IMO President Dr Matt Sadlier urged the Government and the Department of Health to introduce a minimum price structure for alcohol in the upcoming Budget, as well as a complete ban on all alcohol advertising and promotion.
"The increased affordability of alcohol over the past number of years has resulted in a massive cost to Irish society" according to Dr Sadlier.
He said the annual cost to the healthcare system of alcohol-related illness was estimated at €1.2 billion, while the overall cost to Irish society of problem alcohol use is estimated at €3.7 billion including health care costs, crime, costs of premature death and premature mortality and accidents and absenteeism at work.
"Of particular concern is the fact that alcohol consumption rates in Ireland are amongst the highest in Europe and consumption patterns amongst our young people are very troubling, yet the alcohol industry has no obligation to contribute to the full economic cost of alcohol-related harm," Dr Sadlier said.
As alcohol related harm is linked to excessive alcohol consumption, alcohol pricing policies therefore offer an opportunity to reduce alcohol related harm, according to the IMO
Under a minimum pricing structure, alcohol prices will more appropriately reflect the costs of alcohol related harm, the IMO told the Committee.
Dr Sadlier also strongly criticised 'Arthur's Day' as a 'cynical marketing ploy' by the drinks industry.
The IMO also wants a complete ban on alcohol advertising and promotion, including a ban on alcohol sponsorship of sports and an end to product placement in movies and TV programmes.
Discussions on this topic are now closed.