Tuesday 3rd February 2015
- Heads of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 published by Government.
The proposals in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 will help to tackle the misuse of alcohol which occurs across large portions of Irish society. This Bill is a very significant step it is the first time that alcohol misuse is being addressed as a public health issue.
In January 2012 I launched a report by the Committee on Health and Children which called for a number of policy changes to help address the health and societal issues caused by alcohol misuse. Now, those recommendations are closer to becoming a reality.
Introducing a system of minimum unit pricing for alcohol products will be a crucial part of preventing the sale of alcohol at very cheap prices. The minimum price will be set at a level which evidence shows will reduce the burden of harm from alcohol. This measure will help to tackle harmful and hazardous drinking that is encouraged by selling alcohol at rock bottom prices.
The marketing and advertising of alcohol is how companies encourage drinking. Now for the first time the existing Code of Practice for Sponsorships by Drinks Companies will be put on a statutory footing. As part of these measures it will be illegal to market or advertise alcohol in a manner that is appealing to children. It will also put restrictions on broadcast marketing and advertising, cinema advertising, outdoor advertising, print media and the regulation of sponsorship by alcohol companies. These measures will help to reduce alcohol consumption and that they will be reviewed after 3 years will ensure that we can make further changes if needed.
Health labelling and structural separation of alcohol will also be part of these Bills. These initiatives will help to ensure that alcohol is not just seen as another product, it will make clear that alcohol is different and that it must be used responsibly. Health labelling will make consumers aware of exactly how much they are drinking in terms of pure alcohol and calories. By separating alcohol from other products in shops we are underlining that it is a different type of product.
These measures will help to reduce the misuse of alcohol across Irish society. I look forward to debating these proposals and I hope that the Committee can play its role in shaping the final legislation so that it can deliver to reducing the misuse of alcohol that has caused problems for so many families across Irish society.
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