Thursday, October 24 14:18:58
The Government today approved an extensive package of measures to deal with alcohol misuse, including per-alcohol unit minimum pricing and new laws on advertising.
The key measure approved by the Government is the drafting a Public Health (Alcohol) Bill to provide for minimum unit pricing for retailing of alcohol products that sets a minimum price for per gram of alcohol in the product.
It will target alcohol that is cheap relative to its strength, particularly low cost products in the off-trade and especially supermarkets.
The new rules will cover the regulation of marketing and advertising of alcohol to limit TV and radio ads to evening hours from 2016 onwards.
It will also limit advertising of alcohol in cinemas to films classified as over 18s.
The new rules will restrict advertising of alcohol in outdoor media from 2018 with a statutory code of practice to govern such advertising in the interim.
Work will be undertaken with relevant government departments to put in place a process which will identify the forms, frequency and prevalence of outdoor media advertising to be either encompassed or exempted from any restrictions and advertising of alcohol in print media will be regulated by way of a statutory code. The laws will also set limits on how alcohol is portrayed in advertisements (e.g. prowess or sexual content). Enforcement powers will be given to Environmental Health Officers.
The Minister of State for Primary Care, Alex White, said this is the first time alcohol misuse has been addressed as a public health issue.
"The Government has recognised the severe consequences of the misuse of alcohol - including deaths, injuries and social and financial problems - and has determined to take action to address this problem. The package of measures to be implemented is the result of intensive discussions across Government departments, and will include provision for minimum unit pricing for alcohol products and the regulation of advertising and marketing of alcohol."
Welcoming the Government decision Minister for Health Dr James Reilly said, "alcohol misuse in Ireland is a serious problem with two thousand of our hospital beds occupied each night by people with alcohol related illness or injury. This impacts on families and individuals at every level of society. It's deeply worrying too that young people are starting to drink earlier and to drink more. The average Irish person over the age of 15 is consuming the equivalent of a bottle of vodka a week. The Government is committed to tackling these problems and this week's decision marks a significant further step in that direction to create an environment where responsible consumption of alcohol is the norm."