Alex White’s North-South alcohol study for March?

Off-licensees here continue to suffer from excise increases that lead to consumers travelling across the border to purchase cheaper alcohol.

As a result, the Minister for Primary Care Alex White has commissioned a comparative health impact assessment in conjunction with Northern Ireland as part of the process of developing a legislative basis that will include Minimum Unit Pricing – the mechanism that imposes a statutory floor in price levels in both the on- and off-trade sector, a Department of Health spokesperson told Drinks Industry Ireland.

The assessment will study the impact of different Minimum Prices on a range of areas such as health, crime and likely economic impact, she stated.

“We’re working with our colleagues in the north on an economic modeling to ensure that because we have a land border that we’re not out of kilter north and south,” Minister Alex White told Sean O’Rourke in an interview on RTE Radio following an address to the Alcohol Action Ireland Conference before Christmas.

The study should be complete by March and will give him a better idea of what the Minimum Price should be.

He added in the interview that he expects to have draft legislation for the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, including a provision for a Minimum Unit Price for alcohol ready by the Spring.

The Bill would target those whose primary business is other than the sale of alcohol and so legislation would include provision for separating alcohol from other products in mixed trading outlets.
The Bill is also likely to see the current Voluntary Code on alcohol sales replaced by a Statutory Code.

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