This morning a survey on adult drinking in Northern Ireland reveals that nearly three quarters of adults drink alcohol, with over two thirds of males exceeding the recommended daily levels. It also indicated that 11% who responded were likely to have a problem with drink.
The effects of excessive alcohol consumption and harm are often commented on, and I think that we need to have a renewed focus on dealing with the problem.
Last week, a Westminster parliamentary group called for measures that include investment in treatment, regulation on advertising aimed at children and minimum unit pricing. The APPG on Alcohol misuse is supported by Alcohol concern, and have produced figures on harmful effects of drinking in England and Wales, but these surely apply here. The groups of MPs have produced a manifesto with a range of policy choices. The Northern Ireland survey reveals that 60% of respondents are in favour of minimum unit pricing, with a range saying that minimum prices would reduce their drinking.
I don’t think we can continue to sit on our hands and hope that the societal problems associated with alcohol harm will go away. Now is the time to have a renewed debate on appropriate long term solutions.