The Cabinet has signed off on a long-delayed plan to introduce Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) for alcohol from the start of next year in a bid to reduce alcohol abuse and health spending, it was announced on Tuesday.
"I am delighted to learn that the Cabinet has just approved my recommendation ... on the need commence Minimum Unit Pricing in Ireland," Minister of State for Health Frank Feighan said in a Twitter post following a Cabinet meeting.
"The lead in time for this measure will be January 2022."
What It Means
The law means a minimum price for alcohol of 10 cents per gram.
A 500ml can of lager would cost a minimum of €1.70, more than double what some supermarkets are currently charging for their cheapest brands. A 700ml bottle of gin would cost at least €22.09, compared to under €14 at some supermarkets today.
The price rises are governed by a law that was passed in 2018, but the government decided to wait until a similar measure was put in place in Northern Ireland before implementing it.
The Irish government decided to proceed alone after Northern Ireland's devolved government indicated it would not set a minimum price before elections due next year.
Feighan said the experience of Scotland, which registered falls in alcohol consumption following the introduction of a similar measure in 2018, helped convince the government to introduce the measure.
What is MUP?
According to Alcohol Ireland's website, MUP is a “floor price” beneath which alcohol cannot legally be sold and is based on the amount of alcohol in a product, measured in grams.
One standard drink in Ireland contains 10 grams of alcohol and an MUP would apply per standard drink.
It is a targeted measure, designed to stop strong alcohol from being sold at very low prices in the off-trade, particularly supermarkets, where alcohol is frequently used as a 'loss leader' and sold below cost, the group said.
The easy availability of such cheap alcohol has contributed to a dramatic shift in our alcohol purchasing and consumption habits from pubs towards the off-trade sector, which now accounts for 60% of the alcohol sold in Ireland, it added.