Need for change in Sale of Alcohol Bill

Justice Committee recommends that public health impact assessment of Sale of Alcohol Bill must take place 

Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI) welcomes today’s publication of the pre-legislative scrutiny report by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice in relation to the Sale of Alcohol Bill. 

The intention of the Sale of Alcohol Bill is to introduce wide-scale reform, modernisation and streamlining of Ireland’s licensing laws. While AAI agrees with this intent, the Bill in its current form does not adequately take account of Ireland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol. 

AAI welcomes that the report makes clear that many steps need to be taken in ensuring that this Bill is based on sound evidence and policy, and in making certain that it does not cause unintended consequences that will be determinantal to the public health of the nation. 

In this regard, AAI welcomes the Committee’s recommendation that a “Health Impact Assessment of the General Scheme be carried out to evaluate the potential health effects arising from the legislation as proposed.” This is a vital step that AAI recommended from the outset of the origins of this Bill. 

It is even more pressing considering the very slow implementation of the Public Health Alcohol Act, which the committee noted, recommending that “outstanding provisions within the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 are introduced as a priority, to ensure alcohol-related harms are reduced.” 

In its recommendations, AAI believes that the committee took on board the overwhelming nature of alcohol harm in this country, from the costs associated with health, to the harms caused to children and families, to the costs of the justice system. It is estimated that these harms cost the State at least €3.7 billion per year. 

CEO of AAI, Dr Sheila Gilheany said: “AAI has long been calling for a Road Safety Authority style body to get to grips with the more than 1,460 deaths a year caused by alcohol, the 600,000 people living with trauma of problem alcohol use in the home and the 580,000 who have an alcohol use disorder. 

We were very pleased therefore, that the Committee recommended the “establishment of a Statutory Authority within Government with specific responsibility for reducing alcohol-related harms.” 

Cognisant of the harm caused by alcohol, the Committee recommended that consideration be given to the introduction of a levy on the alcohol industry to contribute towards the costs of alcohol-related harms to the State. 

It also recommended that the potential to introduce a Social Impact Fund towards research and treatment of alcohol addiction be examined and that consideration should be given to allocating additional resources towards contributing to harm reduction measures such as alcohol rehabilitative services. 

“We very much hope that these recommendations will be taken on board. Reading them, one is struck by the very serious nature of what this Bill is proposing – pouring more alcohol into a society that is already saturated with harm and trauma from Ireland’s most widely used, psychoactive substance,” Dr Gilheany added. “We will be working with all stakeholders in the public health community to ensure that these recommendations are taken on board before this Bill goes any further.” 

The pre-legislative scrutiny report by the Joint Committee on Justice in relation to the Sale of Alcohol Bill is available here. 

For all media enquiries and interview requests, please contact:    

Hannah-Alice Loughlin    

Advocacy and Communications Lead    

M: 087 995 0186    

Other useful resources:    

Media guide re non-stigmatising language