The Minister will seek Cabinet approval for introducing Minimum Unit Pricing on alcohol by the end of the year according to a report by RTE.
The Minister was responding to calls from Alcohol Action Ireland to fully implement all of the Bill which was signed into law last year.
As from November 12th alcohol advertising on public transport stations and stops is to be prohibited while advertisements for alcohol will be banned in all cinemas showing under-18 films and the promotion of alcohol on children’s clothing or within 200 metres of schools, creches and playgrounds will also be prohibited.
Despite originally agreeing that it would be best to introduce MUP in conjunction with the Stormont Assembly doing so in Northern Ireland, Minister Harris has decided to press ahead in the absence of a functioning NI parliament despite warnings from the drinks industry that some €180 million could be lost to the Exchequer.
But the National Off-Licence welcomed the statement from Minister.
Recent research from the University of Newcastle, published in the British Medical Journal, has shown that the introduction of MUP in Scotland has been successful in reducing alcohol sales and by extension consumption (by 7.6% since its enactment). This is more than twice the anticipated effectiveness, showing MUP’s impact as a policy response to dangerous alcohol consumption, claimed NOffLA in calling for the introduction of MUP as a matter of priority.
“MUP would also significantly reduce the scale of below-cost-selling of alcohol in Ireland,” it stated, “Below-cost-selling results in an annual loss to the Exchequer of €24 million through VAT reclaims.”
NOffLA countered industry fears of revenue loss on this side of the border, claiming that the cross-border shopping market is already saturated given that according to InterTrade Ireland the percentage of Irish cars in Northern Irish car parks has not increased between Q4 2017 and Q4 2018.
“Furthermore, MUP is a targeted measure to combat the sale of ultra-cheap alcohol which tends not to be the kinds of products bought in cross-border shopping,” it stated.
“Our members indicate overwhelmingly their support for its implementation in this jurisdiction alone,” stated NOffLA’s Government Affairs Director Evelyn Jones, “It’s now more than 1,000 days since the Stormont Executive sat. Do we have to wait another 1,000 days to bring in MUP in Ireland?” she continued, “MUP is also likely to be largely budget-neutral, given that it will significantly reduce the levels of below-invoice cost selling thus denying retailers from VAT reclaims. Most products sold below net invoice cost will be banned, given that this price point will also be below the Minimum Unit Price”.