Thursday, 24 October 2013

Questions (268)

Heather Humphreys

Question:

268. Deputy Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Health the present position regarding legislation to tackle the below-cost selling of alcohol; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45531/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government has approved an extensive package of measures to deal with alcohol misuse, on foot of the recommendations in the National Substance Misuse Strategy Steering Group Report. Legislation is being developed to provide for, inter alia, a minimum unit price for alcohol. This is a mechanism of imposing a statutory floor in price levels per gram of alcohol that must be legally observed by retailers in both the on and off trade sector. As part of our work, a health impact assessment, in conjunction with Northern Ireland, has been commissioned as part of the process of developing a legislative basis for minimum unit pricing. The assessment will study the impact of different minimum prices on a range of areas such as health, crime and likely economic impact.

The provision of such a price measure for alcohol - as opposed to fiscal measures - is aimed chiefly at preventing the sale of alcohol at very cheap prices. A minimum pricing regime is a proportional policy exigency that allows the State to engage another parameter to deal with managing the supply of alcohol for the purpose of preventing its misuse. It is a policy aimed at those who drink in a harmful and hazardous manner.