Excise on wine brought in around €231 million in both 2011 and 2012, according to Department of Finance figures.*
The take for the first nine months of this year was at €174.8 million. The expected boost in trade in the run up to December is likely to bring the final figure well above the €231 million figure by the end of the year. Interestingly, that extra euro on a bottle of wine has raised €45 million in taxes. It suggests that wine consumption here is forty-five million bottles a year. I suspect that the wine drinking population of Ireland is well under one million people, or maybe even as low as a half a million people. That's a lot of 'winos.'
Alcohol is cancer causing, a major contributor to heart disease and obesity, and it the single biggest cause of liver disease in humans. Alcohol which naturally evaporates from your glass is a known Class-1 carcinogen making second-hand alcohol, or the involuntary inhalation of these fumes a health hazard. It has always been known that alcohol can be addictive also. Alcohol Action Ireland estimates that the annual death rate from drink is 1,056. As such, there is certainly a clear case to ban the consumption of alcohol in all public places because of this.
AAI have some other interesting facts to consider. Alcohol-related problems cost Ireland an estimated €3.7 billion in 2007. That is nearly twice the estimate for smoking. Treating alcohol-related injuries and diseases cost the healthcare system an estimated €1.2 billion – around 8.5 per cent of the total annual healthcare budget. Every night 2,000 hospital beds are occupied for alcohol-related reasons. Ten per cent of all general in-patient hospital costs, seven per cent of GP costs and up to 30% of emergency department costs are alcohol-related.
It gets worse! An estimated €1.2 billion of taxpayers’ money is spent on dealing with alcohol-related crime, including violence and vandalism. An estimated €527 million is lost on alcohol-related absenteeism and accidents in the work place. Beyond the immeasurable human costs, each fatal car collision is estimated to cost the state €3 million. In 2007, alcohol-related road collisions cost an estimated €526 million. A 30% reduction in alcohol-related harm would save taxpayers an estimated €1 billion a year, according to the Chief Medical Officer of Ireland
We read reports regularly that our consumption of alcohol has reached crisis proportions and then, often in the same week, there are other reports pointing to a fall in consumption of alcohol. So much for reports then. But there is no doubt that it is a health crisis and a massive financial drain on all of us. And it is all totally unnecessary, that's the stupid thing about it. The act of drinking alcohol is utterly senseless and unnecessary. Pure alcohol is a deadly poison that renders the drinker impaired after even one dilute glass of beer, according to the National Roads Authority. Why would any half-thinking adult ever drink a drop of it?
If alcohol were to be exposed to a single ray from the spotlight that is currently focussed on tobacco there would be some drastic changes. For example, a bottle of average wine in the off-license would cost about €50. The pint in the local would go for €12-15. Due to secondhand alcohol fumes your drink would come with a lid on it and you would have to go outside the door to take a sip. Extreme health fanatics would begin to complain that you should not be allowed to stand so close to the pub as well. Others would complain bitterly about the mess you make, hospitals might refuse to see you if you smell of it, and employers would be encouraged not to hire you if you drank. Drinking in front of teenagers would be denormalised and, of course, alcohol would ever be available on trains or planes either.
Has anyone got an appetite for all of that? Does Stubbs Reilly have a duty of care? Why are the ICS and the IHF so mute on the subject? How can Diagio be allowed the abomination of 'Arthur's Day?' What about our precious children etc etc?"