Minister refuses to talk to exporters on Bill

Irish drinks manufacturers have hit out at the “disproportionate” and “ineffective” measures the Government plans to introduce as part of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill to be debated in the Dáil tomorrow.

Expressing concern about the “unintended negative consequences of the advertising and labelling measures being proposed”, the drinks industry says these measures will create an anti-business environment that will deter innovation, growth and investment and won’t achieve the public policy objective.

It’s calling on the Government to balance the bill, pointing out that Minister Simon Harris has not meaningfully engaged with or even met with the country’s drinks manufacturers and exporters about the legislation.

Additionally, this Alcohol Bill is being introduced at a tumultuous time for Irish business with 2018 due to be a pivotal year in the Brexit negotiations, according to Director of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland Patricia Callan.

“While we fully support measures to target alcohol misuse and underage drinking, it’s critically important that measures are targeted and based on evidence,” she stated, “This is not the case at the moment.

“We’re looking for the Government to remove the cancer warning labels from the Bill,” she continued, ”No other country in the world has mandatory cancer labels on alcohol products and we believe that such a measure applies a stigma to products produced in Ireland. It gives a clear advantage to our competitors abroad who’re not required to carry such labels.”

While expressing its commitment to promoting moderate drinking and encouraging responsible choice on alcohol, ABFI believes that, “A specific Irish-only label would also result in significant additional costs and logistical difficulties for businesses operating here. This means that products might be withdrawn from the Irish market, or new products might not be introduced”.

And referring to the advertising content restrictions contained in the new Bill for Dáil debate tomorrow, Patricia Callan said, “In its current form, the Alcohol Bill will make Ireland one of the most restrictive countries in the world for marketing alcohol products. All existing alcohol advertisements will be banned under the new legislation, which will see all forms of a storyline in ads prohibited.

“According to economist Jim Power, the advertising provisions in the Alcohol Bill are based on similar French legislation. In France, strict advertising laws have had little impact on addressing the serious problem of young people drinking, indicating that they may not work here.

“We are seeking an amendment to the Alcohol Bill to allow alcohol advertisements to include storylines,” she concluded.


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