Ireland: soaring alcohol prices to reduce consumption among young people

Laura Taouchanov with Julien Holtzer
, modified at

10:52 a.m., January 10, 2022

Alcohol prices are skyrocketing in Ireland. A huge increase which is not linked to inflation but to the government’s desire to drastically reduce alcohol consumption among young people. A decision that is difficult to be accepted by students whose purchasing power is meager.

As astonishing as it sounds, the price of alcohol is skyrocketing in Ireland! An increase that has nothing to do with inflation. Indeed, it is enacted by the authorities with the aim of reducing alcohol consumption. Ten cents more for every gram of alcohol and a double the price for a pint of beer. A measure put in place to protect young Irish people, the biggest consumers in Europe.

A pack of beers at 43 euros

In this supermarket, their shopping cart is overflowing. Matthew and Josh are in the midst of refueling for an evening. “I buy beers, cider, I have everything”, tells us the first. But the tempting promotions have disappeared from the alcohol section of this supermarket. So inevitably, the checkout immediately becomes much more painful for these 19-year-olds. “This pack of beer was 24 euros and now 43 euros. These new prices are a joke, I don’t agree. It won’t change a thing at all,” Matthew rages. “That ruins all the fun. I’m broke already, so I think we’re gonna have to steal it now,” Josh says, jokingly.

A nervous laugh that hides a deeper discomfort among young people. Because of her small budget, Emma thinks about quitting her studies to go and earn a living. “Social life is part of the university. If we can no longer do anything, we will no longer want to go,” she says, disillusioned.

A decision taken for a “generational change”

For their part, some sellers fear a rush to Northern Ireland, an hour’s drive from Dublin. But Eunan McKinney, the spokesperson for the Alcohol Action Association, does not believe in this scenario “Alcohol is much cheaper in Northern Ireland than here, while the average consumer goes for the more convenient. We will see a drop in alcohol sales because the price has an influence on the buyer’s decision making. It is a generational change as we have seen for tobacco, “he predicted.

It will take about twenty years to measure the effects on the next generation.

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