· The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill published by Min. Varadkar today, treats alcohol misuse as a public health issue for the first time by tackling price, availability, marketing, advertising, and labelling.
· It 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.
· Ireland needs to change its damaging attitude to alcohol.
o Four out of ten drinkers typically engage in binge drinking
o 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
· Key measures:
o Minimum Unit Pricing: a minimum unit price of 10c per gram of alcohol in alcohol products, to eliminate very cheap alcohol from all stores and shops;
o Strict separation of alcohol products in outlets, either by containment in a unit or a separate area of the store, so that it’s not sold like a normal groceries product;
o Compulsory health labelling on drinks requiring grams, calorie count, health warnings and a link to a public health website on alcohol containers, with corresponding warning signs and information in pubs and off-licences;
o 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
o Regulation of advertising, marketing of alcohol and sponsorship, with criminal sanctions applying for the first time;
o Ban on advertising near schools, playgrounds & public transport
o 9pm broadcasting watershed for alcohol adverts
o Prohibition of price-based promotions and tougher restrictions on targeted promotions such as ‘happy-hour’;
o An enforcement regime with inspections by Authorised HSE officers and penalties for non-compliance, including fixed payment notices.