Irish Student Health Association statement in support of full enactment of Public Health (Alcohol) Bill
The Irish Student Health Association would like to take the opportunity to publicly state that it strongly and wholeheartedly supports the enactment and implementation, in full, of all aspects of the proposed Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.
Our members experience on a daily basis the significant and devastating impact that alcohol intake has on the health of our nation, and in particular, the cohort of young 3rd level students to whom we provide care and support. We know only too well, from our experience in our day-to-day consultations, the major role that alcohol plays in causing or contributing to trauma from accidents, physical assaults, sexual assault, unplanned pregnancy, the spread of STI's, anxiety, depression, deliberate self-harm and suicide. The longer term harm posed, beyond their college and university years, is the risk of several cancers for which alcohol is a known risk factor. Alcohol is classified by the World Health Organisation's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a Group 1 Carcinogen, classed alongside other chemicals like arsenic, benzene and asbestos.
Our nation has a long and unhealthy relationship with alcohol, it is pervasive in our society, and it's harm and ill effects can seriously impact not alone those who consume it, but also their parents, partners, children and friends. This nation also has, however, a proud history of being one of the world leaders in showing initiative in taking proactive steps to protect the health of it's citizens, as was demonstrated in recent times with the legislation in relation to smoking in public and the workplace.
The Irish Student Health Association believe that the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill now provides our politicians with a momentous opportunity to introduce legislation that can have a hugely positive impact on the health of both the present and future generations of this great nation. Though the measures that will be brought in by this Bill are by no means the complete solution to the problem, they will undoubtedly lead to a reduction in the level of alcohol intake across the population. Any potential loss to industry in terms of revenue from less alcohol-related sales, pale into absolute insignificance when compared to the longer term savings made from reducing the horrific impact of alcohol-related harm on the citizens of this country and it's substantial and growing cost to our Health services, the Gardaí and the Justice system.
If any politician or any member of the public is in any doubt about the seriousness of alcohol-related harm in this country and the vital importance of this piece of legislation, then please bear in mind the facts below:
· Alcohol is responsible for 3 deaths in Ireland every single day.
· Alcohol is involved in half of all suicides and in one third of all attempted suicides.
· Alcohol is involved in 40% of all road deaths in Ireland.
· Alcohol causes 1000 new cases of cancer and results in 500 cancer deaths in Ireland annually.
· Alcohol is involved in 25% of all case attendances to Irish ED/A&E Departments.
· While our hospitals presently stand at breaking-point, each and every single night in Ireland, approximately 1,500 of our hospital beds are occupied for alcohol-related illness.
· Alcohol is a causative factor in 25% of all traumatic brain injuries sustained in Ireland.
· The economic cost of deaths, illness and crime attributable to alcohol misuse in Ireland is estimated at over €2.35 billion annually.
Bottom line, the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will save lives!
On behalf of all members of the Irish Student Health Association, we implore our legislators, to stand up like the many great statesmen and stateswomen that have gone before, and make the choice to put the people of this nation first, ahead of the interests of business and the alcohol industry. The people of Ireland now need you to make the right decision and ensure that this Bill gets passed and enacted in full.