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Medical group backs new health bill

The new Public Health (Alcohol) Bill can reduce health harms in Ireland, according to a high-profile medical professional.

Professor Frank Murray, president of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, said the findings of the survey carried out ahead of the Bill are not surprising.

He revealed three people die in Ireland every day as a result of alcohol misuse.

“We are concerned that the findings show a lack of awareness of the damage that alcohol causes to health. It is linked to seven cancers including of the liver and colon and breast cancer in women. Alcohol is a factor in one in 10 deaths before aged 50,” Professor Murray said.

He emphasised how every family is affected by alcohol.

“Our harmful relationship with alcohol damages men, women and children. The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill contains many evidence based initiatives, primarily setting a minimum unit price (MUP) for alcohol that targets those who drink large volumes of high strength cheap alcohol.

“MUP has the potential to quickly reduce the number of people attending hospital and the numbers of deaths, incidents and accidents in Ireland. Every night 1,500 hospital beds are occupied as a result of alcohol putting an unsustainable burden on the health services.

“The Bill will also bring in new labelling that can help consumers to make better choices about alcohol. It will help them to assess the health risks, the units of alcohol being consumed and the amount of calories contained in various drinks. This Bill, which will shortly come through the Houses of the Oireachtas. It deserves to be supported,” he said.

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