The regulations, provided for under section 23 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act, aim to prohibit:
- the awarding of loyalty card points or similar benefits on purchases of alcohol and the use of loyalty card points or similar benefits to purchase alcohol.
- the sale of alcohol at a reduced price or free-of-charge on the purchase of another product or service
- short-term (three days or less) price promotions on alcohol products.
The latest draft regulations are designed to address price-based promotions so as to reduce harmful binge-drinking and make alcohol less affordable for young people.
“Alcohol is not an ordinary grocery product,” stated the Minister, “By restricting access to alcohol products through promotions or loyalty card programmes the regulations align with the objectives of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 which are to reduce alcohol consumption and reduce the harms caused by the misuse of alcohol.
“Alcohol is a drug and one which has real risks and harms associated with it and as such, should not be a subject of promotional activity.”
Following the signing of the regulations the Minister intends providing for a one-year lead-in time.
Under the Technical Standards Directive process EU Member States and the European Commission can assess the compatibility of the draft regulations with EU law and Internal Market Principles during a three-month standstill period which begins on receipt of the draft law.
Last November the Minister commenced 23 of the 31 provisions contained in The Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 which was enacted the previous month, October 2018, having been passed last year by the Dáil – but many parts of it remain to be implemented.
New legislation clamping down on cheap alcohol sales in supermarkets was to be fast-tracked by the Government with the Cabinet expected to approve plans during the Summer for introducing Minimum Unit Pricing by mid-2020.
Minimum Unit Pricing was introduced in Scotland last year, the first country to introduce such legislation.