Plans to introduce a new Public Health (Alcohol) Bill announcedThursday, 24 October 2013
On 24 October 2013 Ministers James Reilly, Frances Fitzgerald and Alex White announced that the government had, at its cabinet meeting on 22 October, approved a number of measures to be incorporated in a Public Health (Alcohol) Bill to deal with harmful use of alcohol. The measures are based on the Steering Group Report on a National Substance Misuse Strategy, which was published in February 2012 and contained 45 recommendations under the pillars of supply, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, and research.
The key measure approved by the Government is a Public Health (Alcohol) Bill to provide for:
(a) Minimum unit pricing (MUP) for retailing of alcohol products:
- MUP sets a minimum price for per gram of alcohol in the product; and
- it will target cheap alcohol relative to strength - particularly low cost products in the off-trade, especially supermarkets.
(b) Regulation of marketing and advertising of alcohol, specifically to:
- limit advertising of alcohol on television and radio from 2016 to evening hours;
- limit advertising of alcohol in cinemas to films classified as over 18;.
- restrict advertising of alcohol in outdoor media from 2018 with a statutory code of practice to govern such advertising in the interim;
- advertising of alcohol in print media will be regulated by way of a statutory code; and
- set limits on how alcohol is portrayed in advertisements (e.g. prowess or sexual content).
(c) Enforcement powers will be given to Environmental Health Officers in relation to:
- regulations relating to the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol products under section 16 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008;
- structural separation of alcohol from other products under section 9 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 which may be commenced; and
- any provision(s) of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill which require enforcement measures.
(d) Structural Separation:
The Departments of Justice & Equality and Health have agreed a three-step approach to provide for the structured separation of alcohol from other products in mixed trading outlets. This involves replacing the current voluntary code with a statutory code under Section 17 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 and after two years both Departments will review its effectiveness in achieving the policy objectives of Section 9 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008.
(e) Regulation of sports sponsorship:
The government recognises the public health concerns associated with alcohol sponsorship of sport and the potential impact of any regulatory measures on funding for sports organisations. The existing voluntary code that governs sports sponsorship will be placed on a statutory footing.
(f) Health labelling of alcohol products which will see:
- health warnings and advice (including for pregnancy) on all alcoholic drink containers (bottles, cans etc.) and on promotional materials; and
- the amount of pure alcohol as measured in grams and the calorie count contained in each container/measure on the label/container.