The Public Health (Alcohol) Act is legislative framework designed to tackle Ireland’s harmful relationship with alcohol. It aims to reduce the damage that alcohol causes to individuals, families and society by reducing our alcohol consumption, with a particular focus on protecting children and young people from alcohol harm.
This legislation is part of a range of measures planned under the Healthy Ireland framework, which will work together to improve our health and wellbeing, both as individuals and as a nation. Its goal is to reduce our per capita alcohol consumption in Ireland from 11 litres to 9.1 litres for every person aged 15 and over by 2020 and to reduce alcohol harm. Reducing alcohol consumption across the population will reduce alcohol harm.
Ireland has a high level of alcohol consumption and amongst the highest rate of binge drinking in the world, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The goal of 9.1 litres would bring us more in line with our OECD counterparts and reduce alcohol harm, although our alcohol consumption would still be well above the global average (6.2 litres), with Europe by far the heaviest drinking region in the world. If Ireland were to follow the HSE low-risk drinking of alcohol guidelines (11 standards for women or 17 standard units for men), our consumption rate would be 40% lower than our current level of 11.15 (2017) litres per capita.
This legislation treats our ongoing problem with alcohol misuse as the serious public health problem it is for the first time and will ensure that alcohol is no longer treated as just another ordinary commodity or grocery, but is regulated effectively to reduce alcohol harm in Ireland and improve public health, safety and wellbeing.
Learn more about the Public Health (Alcohol) Act, 2018 by following this link.
The Bill was introduced into the Irish parliament in December 2015 and completed all stages of parliamentary debate in October 2018, when it was signed by the President and accordingly became law.
The Minister for Health on 1st November 2018, signed the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 (Commencement) Order 2018, to commence 23 sections of the Public Health Alcohol Bill into operation.
The Sections of the Act commenced include:
From November 12th 2019:
– Section 14/15: 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.
– Section 20: alcohol advertising in a cinema will be prohibited except around films with an 18 classification or in a licenced premises in a cinema.
– Section 17: children’s clothing that promotes alcohol will also be prohibited.
From 12 November 2020:
Section 22: In mixed retail outlets alcohol products and advertising are confined to one of the following: an area separated by a 1.2 metre high barrier, or units in which alcohol products are not visible up to 1.5 metres height, or up to three units that can be a maximum of 1 metre wide by 2.2 metres high.
In addition, alcohol products can be contained but not be visible in a unit behind the counter.
From 12 November 2021:
· Section 15: A prohibition on alcohol advertising on a sports area during a sporting event, at events aimed at children or at events in which most participants, or competitors, are children.
· Section 16: Alcohol sponsorship of events aimed at children, events which most participants, or competitors, are children and events involving driving or racing motor vehicles is prohibited.
Crucial Sections have not yet been commenced, namely:
Section 4: Applicant (grant or renewal of licence) to provide written notice to Executive
Section 11: Minimum Unit Price, which is a key component of the Bill, requires a further Government decision.
Section 12: The introduction of ‘Labelling of alcohol products’
Section 13: Content of Advertisements, prescribing by law the criteria for future alcohol advertising.
Section 18: Advertisements in publications
Section 19: Broadcast watershed: TV advertising between 03.00-21.00, and Radio 00.00-10.00, and 15.00-24.00.