Minister for Health Leo Varadkar yesterday published far-reaching legislation to tackle Ireland’s ongoing problem with alcohol misuse and reduce consumption.
The press release issued by the EHAI is available here.
The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill treats this as a public health issue for the first time and aims to reduce the damage that alcohol causes to individuals and to society. Its goal is to reduce average annual alcohol consumption in Ireland from 11 to 9.1 litres per person by 2020.
Speaking at the formal launch, Minister Varadkar said: “Ireland needs to change its damaging attitude to alcohol. There’s a huge difference between having a drink on occasion with friends, and indulging in regular binge drinking. The costs are huge: from the damage to personal health and to society, absenteeism, the burden placed on the health services, public disorder and violence, traffic accidents, and the associated mental health consequences.”
“The evidence about Ireland’s drinking habits is shocking. Four out of ten drinkers typically engage in binge drinking. This Bill addresses alcohol as a public health issue for the first time by tackling price, availability, marketing, advertising, and labelling. By taking this approach and confronting the problem in a wide range of ways, I am confident that we can make a huge difference to public health. We have talked about these measures for long enough. Now is the time to make it happen.”
The Bill sets out measures in the following areas:
- Minimum Unit Pricing to tackle cheap alcohol set at 10c/gram of alcohol
- Strict separation of alcohol products in outlets
- Compulsory health labelling on drinks requiring grams, calorie count, health warnings and a link to a public health website on alcohol containers
- Requirement to display health warnings and a link to a public health website and to provide access to information on grams and calories in pubs & off-licences
- Ads to be strictly informative about the product concerned & subject to criminal sanction
- Ban on advertising near schools, playgrounds & public transport
- 9pm broadcasting watershed for alcohol adverts
- Prohibition of price-based promotions and general restrictions on promotions