A Need to Protect Children from Harmful Alcohol Marketing

Press Release 04/01/23: Legislation to protect children from harmful alcohol marketing practices must be commenced  

Broadcast watershed for alcohol ads still not operational 4 years on from laws mandating it. Diageo is the number 4 advertiser to Ireland’s children. 


In 2018, the Oireachtas passed the Public Health Alcohol Act, (PHAA) which prohibits broadcasting of alcohol advertising before the 9pm watershed. Four years on, this measure has not yet been commenced. 

Evidence demonstrating the harmful nature of alcohol marketing is now comprehensive and well documented. There is no doubt that alcohol advertising to adults and children increases use and normalises the consumption of this harmful product. 

Dr Sheila Gilheany, CEO, Alcohol Action Ireland commented: 

“Ireland has a profoundly unhealthy relationship with alcohol, which is a psychoactive substance that has huge human and financial implications across society in Ireland. Alcohol marketing perpetuates the social norm that alcohol is an ordinary product. Alcohol marketers misrepresent alcohol as a safe product that brings happiness, success, friendship and more, with no apparent risks or side effects. It is also a significant tool in recruiting new drinkers, hence the importance of restrictions around marketing to children.”

Figures from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland have shown that 7 out of 10 of the top programmes watched by children are big sporting events. Many of these are shown before 9pm, are sponsored by alcohol companies and have extensive alcohol advertising associated with them. Indeed, Diageo is the number 4 advertiser to children.  The lack of effective controls on marketing to children mean that at least 50,000 children in Ireland start to drink every year and 37% of 15-24 year olds who drink have an alcohol use disorder. We are calling on the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly and the new Minister of State for Public Health, Hildegarde Naughton, to make this a priority in 2023 given the inordinate delay in implementing this low cost, effective measure.’ 

Poll findings indicate overwhelming public support for action to curb alcohol advertising. Data shows that: 

  • 70% of people back stopping alcohol adverts from being shown on TV before 9pm. 
  • 68% back restrictions to limit what alcohol advertising children see and hear. 
  • 66% back stopping alcohol adverts from being streamed on social media channels 

The PHAA was designed to bring about a suite of measures to protect people from the tactics of an aggressive industry acting against the population’s health through aggressive marketing, lobbying against effective public health measures and corporate social responsibility strategies that deflect attention from the harmful nature of the product. 

However, instead of fully commencing PHAA, this government is fast-tracking the Sale of Alcohol Bill which will make alcohol more widely available across the whole of society. This approach will only further exacerbate an already profoundly unhealthy and costly relationship with alcohol. 


For all media enquiries and interview requests, please contact: 

Hannah-Alice Loughlin 

Advocacy and Communications Lead 


M: 087 995 0186 

Other useful resources: 

  1. Where’s the Urgency? Review of implementation of the Public Health Alcohol Act
  2. Out of balance? – Alcohol policy in Ireland webinar
  3. Media guide re non-stigmatising language