The Royal College of Psychiatrists in Northern
Ireland has called on the Executive to take the advice of the
Health and Social Development Ministers and follow Scotland’s lead
in proposing a minimum price for alcohol of 45 pence a unit.
Both Health Minister Michael McGimpsey and
Social Development Minister Alex Attwood have said in recent months
that minimum pricing is needed to curb dangerous drinking habits
that cost society up to £900 million a year.
Dr Philip McGarry, Chair of the Royal College
of Psychiatrists in Northern Ireland, said: "We have been
advocating minimum pricing for alcohol for some time, and now
Scotland has set a lead we believe the Northern Ireland Executive
must follow. The Royal College of Psychiatrists does not oppose
responsible drinking, but like others in the medical profession we
see the dreadful consequences of harmful and hazardous alcohol
Dr McGarry continued: "International evidence
demonstrates that minimum pricing for alcohol works, and the World
Health Organisation says that increasing the price of alcohol is
one of the most effective ways of curbing harmful drinking.
Supermarkets sell beer for less than the price of bottled water,
and we see pubs and clubs promoting drinks, often to young people
and in particular young women, at heavily discounted prices. We
need to make alcohol less appealing, particularly to young people.
The evidence is that banning advertising, limiting the number of
retailers and introducing minimum pricing works."
The relationship between alcohol misuse and
mental health problems is complex, with alcohol both contributing
to mental health problems and being used by some people with mental
illness to ‘self medicate’.
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