First alcohol advertising restrictions become law today

The Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and Minister of State Catherine Byrne TD have welcomed the coming into operation today of three sections of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018.
Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and Minister of State Catherine Byrne TD have welcomed the coming into operation today of three sections of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018.

Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and Minister of State Catherine Byrne TD have welcomed the coming into operation today of three sections of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018.

Ministers Harris and Byrne have also announced the establishment of a Public Health Alcohol Research Group to monitor and evaluate the effects of the Public Heath (Alcohol) Act 2018.
From today:

  • alcohol advertising in or on public service vehicles, at public transport stops or stations and within 200 metres of a school, a crèche or a local authority playground will be prohibited
  • alcohol advertising in a cinema will be prohibited except around films with an 18 classification or in a licensed premises in a cinema
  • children’s clothing that promotes alcohol will be prohibited.

“Studies report consistently that exposure to alcohol advertising is associated with an increased likelihood that children will start to drink or will drink greater quantities if they already do,” said Minister Harris.

“We still have a lot of work to do in this area,” he continued, “An analysis of data from the Global Burden of Disease Study published in March 2019 showed that Ireland has the third highest levels of adolescent binge-drinking in the world at 61% for females and 58.8% for males. “Reports in October this year identified an 80% increase in 2018 in the number of children under 16 admitted to Irish hospitals because of alcohol intoxication. Thirty-six children in 2018 compared to 20 such cases in 2017.
“I am determined to continue this fight. These and other measures in the Public Health (Alcohol) Act will effect practical changes in our society in order to ensure that there will be no room for alcohol and alcohol advertising in Irish childhoods.”

He also stated, “To ensure that the measures in the Act are comprehensively evaluated so that we can assess their effectiveness in meeting the policy objectives, a Public Health Alcohol Research Group has been established. The wide representation on the group, each bringing their own expertise, will ensure that a robust framework is created to evaluate the impact of this ground-breaking legislation.”
Minister Byrne added, “These new measures align with the goals of Healthy Ireland by protecting the future health and wellbeing of our children and young people. I am confident that they will help to bring about a cultural shift in how we view and consume alcohol in Ireland. They also represent an important step in our progressive public health approach to tackling the harmful use of alcohol in Ireland in line with our National Drugs Strategy ‘Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery’.

“The establishment of the Public Health Alcohol Research Group will ensure that the goals of Healthy Ireland are met through the measurement and evaluation of the provisions within the Act”.
Professor of Population Health Medicine at Trinity College Dublin Joe Barry has been appointed Chairperson of this research group which will include representation from the Health Research Board, academia, the Department of Health, the HSE, Alcohol Action Ireland and the Institute of Public Health.

The members of the group will be appointed by the Minister for a three-year term after which the role of the research group will be reviewed.
“HSE Environmental Health Officers will work with all of the relevant parties to ensure there is full compliance with this new legislation,” said
HSE Environmental Health Service Lead Ann-Marie Part.
Speaking on his appointment as Chairperson of the new Public Health Alcohol Research Group, Professor Barry said, “Today is a very important day in public health alcohol policy in Ireland; Minister Simon Harris was rightly praised this time last year for his commitment in getting this legislation on the statute books. The establishment of this Research Group will enable us to gather timely data from now on to measure the effectiveness of this legislation. I look forward to the Research Group commencing work in the very near future”.

Drinks Ireland also commented on today’s enactment of the advertising measures in the Alcohol Act.

“Overall, we support the objectives of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act, to tackle alcohol misuse and underage drinking,” said Drinks Ireland Director Patricia Callan, but she added, “We believe that measures introduced should be proportionate, evidence-based and effective.

“As an industry, we’re committed to the effective implementation and full compliance with the advertising measures in the Alcohol Act being introduced today.

“We’ve a proven track record of implementing positive change in this space. Since 2003 the drinks industry has proudly adhered to some of the strictest advertising codes in the world for both content and volume of alcohol advertising.

“Taken together they meant that, among other things, no alcohol advertising can appeal directly to young people.

“This is reflected positively in consumption figures which show that since 2001 the average per adult alcohol consumption has fallen by 23.2% in Ireland.

“Additionally, the latest figures show that alcohol consumption among teenagers went from 12.7% in 2002 to 4.1% in 2014. This figure (4.1%) is well below the European average of 12.9%.”



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