Alcohol charity calls for legislation to regulate drinks promotions and advertising which encourage harmful binge drinking among young people

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, has criticised the type of drinks promotion that led to a huge crowd of young people gathering outside a Dublin nightclub on Monday.

“Promotions like this are aimed squarely at young people and encourage the type of harmful binge drinking that is such a threat to their health and wellbeing. The fact that this drinks promotion is called ’Messy Mondays’ is a clear statement of intent and the fact that this establishment lowered its admission age to 18 for the first time and was promoting cut-price offers such as three ’Jagerbombs’ for €10 is also indicative of who it was trying to attract and the type of drinking behaviour those attending were being enticed to engage in,” said a spokesperson for Alcohol Action Ireland.

“The huge crowd that gathered outside for this promotion is unfortunately a reflection of the fact that there remains a consistent trend for drunkenness among young Irish people, a trend that sets them apart from the majority of their European counterparts and, unfortunately, the impact of this trend is already reflected by the fact that chronic alcohol-related conditions among young people have become increasingly common.

“However, when young people are consuming large volumes of alcohol in a short space of time then they are also putting themselves in immediate danger, not just in terms of their health, but also the poor decision-making, accidents and the other forms of risky behaviour that we know go hand-in-hand with binge drinking.

“These type of drinks promotions and the associated advertising also reinforce the dangerous message that it is normal – and also fun and cool – to get drunk, a message that is at the root of so much of harmful drinking among our young people. It is vital that we legislate comprehensively for the promotion and advertisement of alcohol, as proposed in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, and move away from the current system of self-regulation which sees young people continuously exposed – from drinks promotions to sports sponsorship and social media to billboards – to positive, risk-free images of alcohol and its use, which are far removed from the reality of the situation.

“This alcohol marketing – particularly when combined with the explosion in the number of outlets selling alcohol at very cheap prices in the off-trade in recent years – is a powerful and sophisticated influence on young people’s drinking behaviour and expectations, increasing the likelihood that they will start to use alcohol at an earlier age and to drink more if they are already using alcohol.”