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UPDATE 1-Irish government backs plan for minimum alcohol pricing from 2022

(Adds background, indication of cost of products under new rules)

DUBLIN, May 4 (Reuters) - The Irish government has signed off on a long-delayed plan to introduce Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol from the start of next year in a bid to reduce alcohol abuse and health spending, a minister announced on Tuesday.

“I am delighted to learn that the Cabinet have just approved my recommendation ... on the need commence Minimum Unit Pricing in Ireland,” Minister of State for Health Frank Feighan said in a Twitter post following a Cabinet meeting.

“The lead in time for this measure will be January 2022.”

The law means a minimum price for alcohol of 10 cents per gram.

A 500ml can of lager would cost a minimum of 1.70 euros, more than double what some supermarkets are currently charging for their cheapest brands. A 700ml bottle of gin would cost at least 22.09 euros, compared to under 14 euros at some supermarkets today.

The price rises are governed by a law that was passed in 2018, but the government decided to wait until a similar measure was put in place in Northern Ireland before implementing it.

The Irish government decided to proceed alone after Northern Ireland’s devolved government indicated it would not set a minimum price before elections due next year.

Feighan said the experience of Scotland, which registered falls in alcohol consumption following the introduction of a similar measure in 2018, helped convince the government to introduce the measure. (Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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