Reflecting on this week’s debate on the Public Health Alcohol Bill in Seanad Éireann, concluding Committee Stage, Alcohol Action Ireland believe it is clear there is now a firm resolve amongst Senators who, in recognising the impact of alcohol related harms, understand the need to progress the Bill as quickly as possible.
Commenting on the debate, Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications and Advocacy, said:
“The nature of the debate highlights the collective will of the Seanad to stay the course with the objectives of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. Clearly the scale of 1.35 million of our people continuing to have a harmful relationship with alcohol and the impact it is having on their health, along with the overwhelming support of the public, is finally resonating with our legislators. Equally, the need to protect all our citizens, especially our children, from the known risks associated with alcohol is now fully appreciated.
Noting the debate’s focus on the concerns of the retail sector, he said:
“Our Senators understand that we cannot hope to make progress on this national crisis with alcohol until we begin to consume less, and that less consumption inevitably must mean less sales. Policy measures within the Bill like Structural Separation, and Minimum Unit Pricing, will aid this objective as alcohol is shifted from being visible as an everyday grocery to a discretionary item that needs careful, informed consideration.
Alcohol Action Ireland has spent many years advocating for this legislation and stand ready to assist Minister Harris, his officials at the Department of Health, and the Retailers across our communities, to understand the impact of intrusive visibility in-store and the price on alcohol sales.
The Bill’s principal objective is to induce a 3.25% reduction annually in the level of alcohol consumption (11.46 litre per capita currently to an OECD average consumption of 9.1 litre over the coming seven years). This can only be achieved by implementing the measures proposed within the Bill cohesively.
The enormous pressure from the intense lobbying being undertaken by the alcohol industry to preserve an estimated €3.4 billion off-trade market makes this task increasingly challenging. We remain confident that our legislators will stand by the health of our nation and the protection of our children.”