• alcohol policy;
  • public opinion;
  • policymaker


Introduction and Aims

This paper examines the level of public support for alcohol control policies during a period of policy evolution in Ireland.

Design and Methods

A comparison of attitudes to alcohol policy at three points in time was undertaken. The first survey took place in 2002 and was repeated in 2006 and 2010 using a national quota sample of 1000 adults with face-to-face interviews. Policy areas examined were drunk-driving, price, availability and promotion.


In 2002, the highest level of public support was for drink-driving countermeasures (84% favoured random breath testing) and measures to restrict alcohol promotions (67% favoured restrictions). Support for stricter measures on price and availability was lower. Trends showed a decline in support for tax increases and for early closing time, whereas support for fewer outlets (off-trade) increased.

Discussion and Conclusion

When public concerns (level of support) for stricter alcohol policies were seen to be meet, as occurred with price and hours through increased tax and reversal of opening hours, public concern/support declined. When concerns were not met, as with outlets, support continued to rise most likely influenced by greater number of off-trade outlets and cheaper alcohol. Support for liberal alcohol policies was low and the majority favoured the status quo on price and availability. Public support for policy is one element of the complexity of policymaking along with consensus building across government and management of vested interests, so that the policy outcome is seldom assured. [Hope A. The ebb and flow of attitudes and policies on alcohol in Ireland 2002–2010. Drug Alcohol Rev 2014;33:235–241]