In May 2012, the Health Research Board, on behalf of the Department of Health, commissioned Ipsos MRBI to conduct a survey in order to measure public knowledge, attitudes and behaviour towards the purchasing and consumption of alcohol; the marketing and selling of alcohol; and current and possible responses to alcohol-related health and social harms. A questionnaire designed by the Health Research Board in collaboration with Ipsos MRBI was administered to 1,020 respondents at 100 sampling points throughout all counties in the Republic of Ireland. The sample was representative of the 3.4 million adults aged 18 years and over when compared with Census 2011 figures and was further weighted to match the Census for analysis.
17% of respondents have not had an alcoholic drink in the last year. 49% drink weekly or more often. Drinking at home is very popular among all age groups, at between 74 and 90% of all those who have ever drank alcohol in the past. Almost four out of ten say that they have heard the term “standard drink”. Less than one out of ten (9 %) can correctly identify the number of standard drinks in four different alcoholic drinks of various measures. 9% can correctly identify the pre-2010 recommended weekly maximum number of standard drinks for men and for women.
There is strong support for more labelling on cans and bottles containing alcohol. 98% support including labelling on the alcohol strength, the number of calories (82%), details of alcohol-related harms (95%) and on the ingredients (91%). There is near complete support (95% or over) for healthcare professional asking about alcohol consumption where it is linked to the patient’s condition or treatment.
Impact of Alcohol on Society
86% agree that there are high rates of drunkenness on Irish streets at night and 85% that the current level of alcohol consumption in Ireland is too high. 71% do not agree that alcohol consumption is reducing in Ireland and 73% thinks that Irish society tolerates high levels of alcohol consumption. 75% do not agree it is safe to drive after one alcoholic drink and 90% do not agree that it is safe to drive after two alcoholic drinks. 94% support mandatory testing of the alcohol levels of drivers involved in traffic accidents and 84% support fitting an “alcohol lock” in the car of those convicted of drink driving on more than one occasion.
Particpants recognised that common medical conditions are associated with consuming alcohol in excess of the recommended maximum, such as liver disease (92 %), pancreatitis (84 %) and high blood pressure (80 %), are widely known.
78% agree that the government has a responsibility to implement public health measures to address high alcohol consumption, with strongest agreement among those aged 25 years and older.