Sheffield University research has helped persuade Northern Ireland ministers to back the introduction of a minimum unit pricing policy for alcohol which they believe could reduce drink-related hospital admissions by more than 2,400 a year.
Health Minister Jim Wells announced plans to introduce the policy after a Sheffield report showed it would reduce consumption and alcohol-related harm by ensuring drink cannot be bought at prices which do not reflect its strength.
The impact was assessed on the basis of a minimum price of 50p per unit, a move which Westminster has so far resisted for England.
Mr Wells said: “The level of harm caused by excessive alcohol consumption in Northern Ireland is staggering.
“The total cost to the Northern Ireland economy is estimated to be as high as £900m per year, with the burden to healthcare alone costing up to £240m per year.
“The evidence in the University of Sheffield’s report is compelling and, subject to executive agreement, I intend to put the issue out to public consultation and will be keen to see what feedback we get on this important issue.”