Scottish Minimum unit pricing judgement reflects public health concerns on alcohol – Louise O’Reilly TD
Speaking today after the Scottish Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled against a challenge by the Scottish whiskey industry on minimum unit pricing, Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD said that the ruling and its focus on public health had important implications for legislation in Ireland and hoped for the successful passage of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 through the Oireachtas.
Deputy O’Reilly said:
“I welcome the ruling today in the Court of Session in Edinburgh. The ruling has been much anticipated and is a positive and encouraging development when we consider that next week the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 returns to the Seanad.
“The package of measures in this Bill, including those relating to minimum unit pricing, move to address public health concerns in Ireland as a result of alcohol consumption. The Scottish ruling has underpinned that no other alternative in the area of taxation would have a similar or better result in terms of protecting health.
“I hope that this verdict and that of the ECJ last December will deter any similar challenges being taken against Ireland’s legislation. Any delay tactics by the alcohol industry to this legislation ultimately has a human cost in lives lost and health damaged. The fact is that there are three alcohol-related deaths in Ireland every day and alcohol currently places a huge burden on our health service, taking up an estimated 1,500 hospital beds every night. €1.5 billion was spent in hospital discharges in 2012 according to the Health Research Board, and this is not inclusive of the significant costs incurred by our emergency departments. Similarly, alcohol is classified as a group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
“Sinn Fein are very clear in terms of our support for this legislation- this is a piece of legislation with very heavy implications for public health and it is through that lens that we have examined, evaluated and measured our response to each section.
“It is important now that this Bill has a successful passage through the Oireachtas and that we have no undue delays on its passage or implementation.”