It’s one of five clear and direct actions announced by the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking as part of a new drive to accelerate efforts to reduce underage drinking globally.
Drinks Ireland, which represents Irish drinks producers and brand owners, has signed up to the actions at a national level.
- the introduction of clear age-restriction symbols or equivalent words on all alcohol products including no-alcohol variants. This will start to be rolled-out immediately with compliance across all markets by 2024
- the industry will continue to work with leading digital platforms to implement rigorous online safeguards in its ongoing efforts to prevent minors from seeing or interacting with alcohol brands online. Safeguards will be in place for at least 95% of online alcohol marketing by 2024
- the industry will not market alcohol-free extensions of alcohol brands to anyone underage
- the industry will seek to work with online retailers, postal services and delivery companies to develop a global code of conduct for the online sale and delivery of alcohol.
The development follows the release of new figures recently showing that underage alcohol consumption has declined substantially in Ireland.
The figures show that 69% of young people aged between 10 and 17 have never had an alcoholic drink, an increase of 11% since 2014. The Irish study, part of a global study for the World Health Organisation, was commissioned by the Department of Health and carried out by the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway.
The commitments acknowledge that in a changing world, where media is consumed online by young people, further action must be taken to tackle underage drinking commented Drinks Ireland Director Patricia Callan.
The move reflects a commitment by the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking that symbols or written age restrictions are to be added to labels on all alcohol drinks produced by IARD members where legally permissible – in some markets that already have a government-mandated warning the IARD symbol or communication may not be permitted.
IARD members include AB InBev, Diageo and Pernod Ricard, Asahi Group Holdings, Bacardi, Beam Suntory, Brown-Forman Corporation, Carlsberg, Heineken, Kirin Holdings Company, Molson Coors and William Grant and Sons.
The Association has stated that the new age-restriction symbols or wordings will be in place in all markets by 2024.
IARD members have committed to taking further action to prevent minors from seeing or interacting with their brands online – building on a unique partnership with leading digital platforms announced last year.
IARD pointed out that partnerships with facebook, Snapchat and YouTube were helping to remove children who might misreport their ages. Their real ages could be exposed, for example, by interests that were more common for children or by their choice of friends.
“These five actions mark another step towards our goal of eliminating underage drinking,” said Albert Baladi, President and Chief Executive of Beam Suntory and IARD Chief Executive & Chair, “Although underage drinking has fallen in many parts of the world, this trend is not universal.
“We want to accelerate progress and work with others to eliminate underage drinking in every community through a whole-of-society approach.”
IARD said it was also looking into extending the ability of adults to opt out of alcohol marketing.
Producers have agreed to apply tighter safeguards for at least 95% of online alcohol marketing by 2024.