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Posted by New on April 01, 2004 at 14:56:16:
Martin imposes six-pint-a-week limit to fight binge-drinking
By Dan Collins
EACH Irish citizen over 18 years of age is to be given an annual alcohol quota equivalent to six pints, or four glasses of wine per week.
The Government move comes following widespread concern about binge-drinking and the worrying fact that we drink more alcohol than any other nation.
Under radical measures to counter our national drink problem, quantities of alcohol consumed will be recorded on an individual swipe card and those exceeding the limit, will be penalised by having to pay special penalties ranging from EUR100 to EUR10,000.
Health Minister MicheŠl Martin's new drink clampdown initiative is based on a model which has been highly successful in Finland and Sweden. The new laws will mean that nobody will be served alcohol in pubs, restaurants, hotels, supermarkets or off-licences without producing their swipe card which will be issued by the Revenue Commissioners. Due to the ease with which the smoking ban was introduced this week, Mr Martin has decided the radical new drink law, which has long been considered by the Cabinet, should be introduced sooner than originally planned.
Last night, a senior civil servant in the minister's department said the radical legislation would in fact be in place by the end of November next. From then on, each Irish adult will be allowed the equivalent of six pints per week, or four glasses of wine.
"The minister believes that it's crucial the alcohol quota system be up and running before next December and January which are traditionally heavy drinking periods for most citizens," said Donal ” CoileŠin, chairman of the Oireachtas Health and Alcohol Legislation committee.
Mr Martin, whose no-nonsense approach to improving the health of the nation was well illustrated by his smoking ban, believes that too many Irish people consume too much alcohol.
"There are a number of health risks associated with drinking in excess of recommended sensible drinking limits. These include increased blood pressure, cancers of the mouth and upper digestive system, cirrhosis of the liver, and pancreatic and other digestive disorders. Alcohol abuse also plays a major part in accidents, violence, crime and other social disorders," Mr ” CoileŠin said.
The new laws aim to reduce the number of adults drinking to excess by 25% within five years of introduction of the alcohol strategy. This is estimated to save EUR2.5bn a year nationally in terms of the total social, economic and health costs of excess alcohol consumption. Failure to comply with the quota system will cost the excessive drinker dearly. For instance, a fine of EUR100 will be imposed on each of the next 10 drinks in excess of the weekly allowance.
After that the fines will be imposed on an upward sliding scale. "Anyone who, say for instance, has more than 16 pints or 14 glasses of wine in a one-week period could face penalties up to and including EUR10,000. The swipe card, which is used already in the Swedish government's state liquor shops, Systembolaget, is tried, tested and fool-proof. There will be no avoidance of these penalties," Mr ” CoileŠin said.
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