independent advocate reducing alcohol harm

Alcohol Action Ireland marks the separation of alcohol in stores

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national independent advocate for reducing alcohol harm, today (12th November) hosts a seminar titled ‘No Ordinary Product’ to mark the provisions of Section 22 of the Public Health Alcohol Act, 2018 coming into effect from 12th November 2020.

The measures, now applying to the retail landscape, come after a two-year transition period had been extended to retailers to comply.

Under the new law, which will be monitored by the HSE Environmental Health Officers, mixed trade retailers can store alcohol products in a storage unit behind the counter at only one point of sale area and can also display and advertise alcohol products using one of the following three options:


• A separate area of the shop separated by a physical barrier which has a minimum height of not less than 1.2 metres and through which alcohol and advertisements for alcohol are not visible


• Enclosed adjacent storage units on the shop floor in which the products are not visible up to a minimum height of 1.5 metres


• A maximum of three adjacent units, each of 1 metre width and 2.2 metres high.


The requirements of Section 22 for mixed trade retailers do not apply to stand alone off-licences, airports or passenger aircraft.

In passing this legislation, the state demonstrated a seriousness about reducing the demand for alcohol by separating it from other everyday grocery items in mixed outlets. Purchasing alcohol is not the same as buying ordinary groceries.


These measures are also a further significant step to addressing the relationship between alcohol and our children, by reducing the likelihood that our younger children will be exposed to alcohol products and advertising in their daily lives.

Commenting on these developments, Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications and Advocacy at Alcohol Action Ireland, said:

We are delighted that this day has finally arrived. These measures provide us all with a new opportunity to end the normalisation of alcohol throughout society; alcohol is not an ordinary product and should never be seen as such.  

 Bringing these measures into law has been a very long, and by times, difficult challenge. The significance of placing alcohol controls on a statutory basis, ending a somewhat cavalier self-regulatory approach, is highly important.  

 The Public Health Alcohol Act holds this principle at the heart of its endeavour and we look forward to the government fulfilling its promise, outlined in the Programme for Government, to implement, in full, the Public Health Alcohol Act (PHAA) honour their longstanding commitment to introducing minimum unit pricing. 

The seminar ‘No Ordinary Product’, will feature a presentation from Prof. Niamh Shortt, University of Edinburgh: ‘Space of alcohol and youth exposure’ examining issues of local environment as an important determinant of alcohol related behaviours and inequalities in these behaviours, and a brief panel discussion to follow, with contributions from Dr Olivia Freeman, College of Business, Technological University Dublin and Kathryn Reilly, Policy Manager, Irish Heart Foundation.