independent advocate reducing alcohol harm

Public Health (Alcohol) Bill

What is the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill?

The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will contain a package of measures designed to tackle our harmful relationship with alcohol, reducing alcohol consumption and the related harms.

The measures proposed for inclusion in the Bill were announced by Government in October 2013 and are based on the recommendations of the Steering Group Report on the National Substance Misuse Strategy, which was published in February 2012.

Though it may seem to strange to many, particularly given the high-profile nature of our harmful relationship with alcohol, this marks the first time that alcohol misuse has been addressed as a public health issue by an Irish Government.

To read more about the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill see alcoholireland.ie/publichealthbill

Why is it needed?

Alcohol-related harm in Ireland currently claims three lives a day and costs the State an estimated €3.7 billion annually, putting a particular strain on our already overburdened health services, where 2,000 beds are occupied by people with alcohol-related illnesses every day.

Alcohol also plays a major role in a wide range of other very serious issues for Irish society, such as crime, suicide, self-harm and child welfare. The harm that is caused by our drinking extends far beyond the individual who is drinking, to impact on families, their own or other people’s, communities, schools, hospitals and businesses throughout Ireland.

At an individual level, the majority of Irish drinkers are still drinking in a harmful manner. Our per capita consumption is 11.7 litres of pure alcohol per person aged 15 and over (which equates to a bottle of vodka each every week), a situation that is exacerbated by our unhealthy drinking patterns, particularly the prevalence of binge drinking.

To find out more about alcohol-related harm in Ireland see alcoholireland.ie/facts

What will the Bill contain?

The measures proposed for inclusion in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, brought forward by Minister Alex White and the Department of Health, address the key areas of alcohol-harm reduction, including the pricing, marketing and availability of alcohol.

Among other measures, the bill will provide for:

 ·                 The introduction of minimum pricing

 ·                 Regulation of the marketing and advertising of alcohol

 ·                 Health labelling of alcohol products

 ·                 Enforcement powers to be given to Environmental Health Officers in relation to sale, supply and consumption of alcohol products

For detailed information on the measures proposed see alcoholireland.ie/measures

What can you do?

The proposed measures do not yet include important aspects of the Steering Group Report recommendations, such as a ban on alcohol sponsorship of sports (which is to be further examined by a Working Group) and the commencement of Section 9, which would ensure the structural separation of alcohol from other goods in mixed retails outlets, such as supermarkets. We will continue to campaign for the introduction of these critical measures.

However, even those measures which are proposed to be introduced as part of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, such as minimum pricing, are by no means guaranteed and our politicians are subject to intense lobbying by the alcohol industry, which will use all its financial power – and the influence which that affords it – to resist all public health measures that would reduce alcohol consumption and, therefore, represent a threat to its profits.

We would greatly appreciate your support for the campaign to introduce evidence-based policies that are most likely to significantly reduce the burden of alcohol-related harm on our society, improving health, safety and wellbeing for all.

To find out more about what we do and how you can get involved contact us on 01-8780610 or admin@alcoholactionireland.ie.   Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for the latest alcohol-related news and policy developments.