Belfast Telegraph

Over half of people in Northern Ireland 'in favour of minimum alcohol pricing': Latest study into drinking habits

Study finds three-fifths agree with minimum price

By John Mulgrew

Over half of people in Northern Ireland are in favour of a minimum price for alcohol, a study has revealed.

Some three-fifths of those quizzed said they agreed with the introduction of a minimum price per unit of alcohol.

Health Minister Edwin Poots is considering imposing a minimum price on cheap alcohol in an aim to 'protect young people'.

But of those drinkers questioned, just 4% said they would drink less if a minimum unit price for alcohol was set at 40p.

That number quadrupled to 17% if pricing rose to 70p.

The latest incarnation of the 'Adult Drinking Patterns Survey' also showed that younger people - aged between 18 and 29 - are more likely to drink than older people, aged between 60 and 75.

Almost three-quarters of people said they drank alcohol - a figure similar to previous years.

The latest results were released by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

This latest survey was conducted between October 2013 and November 2013 across a sample of private households in Northern Ireland.

Earlier this month Health Minister Edwin Poots said paying for emergency treatment if drunk could be considered as one step to prevent the misuse by the public of A&E.

The main findings of the report

- Almost three-quarters of respondents (73%) drank alcohol (similar to previous years).

- A larger proportion of males (76%) than females (70%) drank alcohol.

- Younger adults (18-29 years) were more likely to drink than older adults (60-75 years) – 82% compared with 58%.

- The most common alcoholic drinks consumed by males were beer (70%), wine (35%) and spirits (27%), while it was wine (64%), spirits (30%) and beer (19%) for females. 

- Two-thirds of respondents (65%) who drank alcohol in the week prior to the survey had consumed it at home, while one-fifth drank either in the pub (20%) or in restaurants (17%).

- Almost one-third of male respondents (29%) and two-fifths of female respondents (42%) did not exceed the recommended daily drinking levels during the week prior to the survey.

- The proportion of male drinkers (13%) that exceeded the recommended daily limits on three or more days in the previous week was more than double that of female drinkers (6%).

- Almost one-third of those respondents (31%) who drank in the week before the survey had engaged in at least one binge drinking session with males (35%) more likely to do so than females (27%).

- Almost three-fifths of males (57%) and two-thirds of females (69%) who consumed alcohol in the week prior to the survey considered themselves to be light drinkers.

- Two-thirds of respondents (68%) had heard of minimum unit pricing of alcohol prior to the survey.

- Three-fifths of respondents (60%) were in favour of minimum unit pricing.

- Of all respondents that drank alcohol, 4% stated that they would drink a lot less if a minimum unit price for alcohol was set at 40p, which compared with 17% at 70p per unit.

- For 'problem drinkers', 6% would drink a lot less if a minimum unit price was set at 40p, which compared with 25% if a minimum unit price was set at 70p.

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