As the World Health Organisation calls for action on harmful alcohol consumption, the Royal College of Psychiatrists believes it's time for the Minister for Health to follow Scotland's lead in considering ways to tackle this problem.
Like many others in the medical profession, psychiatrists see the impact of excessive alcohol consumption every day. Not least, we see this in the number of incidents of suicide and self-harm where alcohol is a factor.
In considering ways to curb deaths related to harmful alcohol consumption, the World Health Organisation has said that increasing the price of alcoholic beverages is one of the most effective interventions, as consumers, including heavy drinkers and young people, are sensitive to changes in the price of drinks.
We agree that pricing policies can be used to reduce underage drinking, progression towards drinking large volumes of alcohol and/or episodes of heavy drinking.
We urge the Health Minister to pay due consideration to the Working Document For Developing a Draft Global Strategy to Reduce Harmful Use of Alcohol and to the BMA's Under the Influence report, both of which set out practical solutions.
DR PHILIP McGARRY
Chair, Royal College of Psychiatrists (NI)