ABFI calls to ‘balance the Bill’

ABFI has called for a “balanced approach” to the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, due before the Seanad this Wednesday.

The Federation has restated that the proposed advertising measures in the Bill are “poorly targeted, not backed by evidence and will unfairly impact an indigenous industry that supports over 210,000 jobs.

“The Alcohol Bill will make Ireland one of the most restrictive countries in the world for marketing alcohol products,” ABFI points out, “It will ban images of people, animals, scenic shots of Ireland and scenes in pubs from appearing in alcohol advertisements,” and ABFI has dubbed the proposals ‘censorship’.

“The Irish drinks industry supports jobs in every county in Ireland and has huge potential for future growth,” stated ABFI Director Patricia Callan, “Just look at Ireland’s whiskey renaissance. A few years ago Ireland had only four operational whiskey distilleries. There are now 18 distilleries operating across Ireland from Dublin’s Liberties to rural communities nationwide. The latest figures from the CSO on the value of Irish whiskey exports (RoI only) for the first seven months of 2017 indicate that the value of exports globally is up 19.9% to €314 million. The Irish beer industry is also thriving. Last year, Irish beer exports accounted for 20% of Ireland’s total beverage exports.

“Currently, some of the loudest voices in this debate are indifferent to the consequences of this Bill for jobs and businesses across Ireland. Furthermore, the extreme and erratic rhetoric being used by the anti-alcohol lobby only serves to confirm the need for a balanced approach to the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.

“The drinks industry fully supports measures to target alcohol misuse and underage drinking but it is critically important that these measures are targeted and based on evidence. This is not currently the case with the advertising proposals in the Bill.

“According to a report by economist Jim Power, commissioned by a number of Irish media companies, these advertising proposals will cost the Irish media industry €20 million in lost advertising revenue per annum. It will simply shift this revenue away from domestic Irish media towards international non-Irish regulated media organisations that broadcast here and to digital media. This is much less regulated and is where young people access most of their media content.

“We would argue that a better way forward is for the existing rules to be placed on a statutory footing with significant penalties for any breaches.

“These rules have been in place since 2003 and we know that they work. According to the World Health Organisation alcohol consumption in Ireland has declined by 25% since 2005. Mirroring this decline, the latest ESPAD (EU alcohol) report, published in 2016, showed a significant decline in underage alcohol consumption. Ireland went from a ranking of 8th to 28th out of 33 countries analysed over the course of the study.”




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