Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children Report
Tuesday, 24th January 2012
A ban on all retail advertising relating to the discounting of alcoholic products, a ban on the advertisement of alcoholic products on television before 9pm and a ban on the advertisement of alcohol products on social networking websites should be explored by the Government to help deal with the misuse of alcohol and drugs in Ireland, according to a new report by the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children.
The report, The misuse of alcohol and other drugs, which was published today also recommends that the Government end VAT refunds on below-cost sales of alcohol and that the Government prohibit the practice of retail deliveries of alcoholic products directly to consumers’ homes.
The majority of the members of the Committee support the introduction of minimum pricing in respect of alcoholic drinks in a forthcoming public health bill. However, there was a divergence of views within the committee on this matter with a minority supporting, as an alternative, an increase in either or both alcohol expenditure taxes (with the additional revenue generated being ring-fenced for preventative education and the provision of alcohol addiction services).
Other key recommendations are:
- That the Government consider how a programme of new, preventative, educational initiatives, aimed at the public in general, could be devised and implemented. The aim of this programme would be to highlight the implications and dangers of alcohol and drug misuse, and to influence the prevailing cultural attitudes, particularly in relation to the use of alcohol.
- That the Committee are extremely concerned about the proliferation of outlets which sell alcoholic products and the presentation of such products therein. The Committee recommends that legislation be introduced which would ban the presentation and sale of alcoholic products alongside groceries, confectionary and fuel.
- Consider should also be given to outright ban on the sale of alcohol in certain outlets in the longer term.
- That legislation be introduced criminalising the importation of cannabis seeds.
- That the Misuse of Drugs legislation be amended to include stricter controls on the importation and prescribing of benzodiazepines.
- That there be renewed emphasis on the implementation by the HSE of the four tier model as recommended by the National Drug Rehabilitation Implementation Committee (NDRIC), as well as on the aims and objectives of the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016.
- That funding under the medical card should cover rehabilitation treatment for alcohol addiction.
- That youth work and peer support be considered by policymakers as an integral part of any strategy aiming to divert children away from substance misuse.
Committee Chairman, Jerry Buttimer TD said: “The over-arching aim of this report is to highlight the prevalence of alcohol and other drugs in society and to emphasise the misuse of alcohol in particular, this being the most commonly used drug – what some have called the ‘national drug.’
The report hopes to bring about a change in attitudes towards the misuse of alcohol by illustrating the huge personal and economic costs caused by hazardous drinking.
It is the Committee’s belief that there is no single measure which will solve the problem of alcohol misuse. Rather, a package of measures is needed to change our attitudes towards, and behaviour regarding, the consumption of alcohol.
The Committee is aware that alcohol consumption per capita is an indicator for alcohol-related harm in any country. Noting the lower levels of total alcohol consumption per capita in 1960’s Ireland, the Committee wishes to see the implementation of measures which will bring about a significant reduction in the overall consumption of alcohol per capita in the coming years.”
The full report can be accessed by clicking on the following link:
Access a clip of the Chairman introducing the report: