Strong public support for action on alcohol advertising

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national independent advocate for reducing alcohol harm, today (Wednesday 17th November) published the findings of an opinion poll, conducted by Ireland Thinks, exploring public support for action on alcohol advertising.

  • 70% 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 findings indicate overwhelming public support for action on alcohol advertising – yet legal measures to curb such ads to children remain unimplemented.

Significant alcohol advertising measures, enacted by the Public Health Alcohol Act in 2018, remain dormant.  For nearly three years, the Minister has been citing consultation and work with others as reason for the inordinate delay.

The principal objective of these measures is to limit children’s exposure to alcohol advertising. In particular, the Broadcast watershed (Section 19), which removes alcohol advertising from television until 9pm.

This measure, if commenced by Minister Donnelly, would put a significant curb on children’s exposure to alcohol advertising especially during daytime broadcasts where live sports feature so prominently.

According to the recent Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s ‘Statutory Report on the Effect of the BAI Children’s Commercial Communications Code’ (2021), 7 of the top 10 TV Programmes for Irish children, aged 4-17 years, were live sports broadcasts: GAA, Rugby and Soccer.

The Content of Advertisements (Section 13) equally remains dormant; in operation it has the potential to transform what children will see and hear in future alcohol advertising as placements become largely a utilitarian expression void of human experiences. Critically were Section 13 commenced, all self-regulatory, voluntary codes, administered by Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) would become redundant and replaced by a statutory code.

Nielsen Ad Intel shows that €14m was spent on alcohol television advertising in 2020, with a further near €1 million on radio. Diageo was the leading advertiser with a €4.9m spend, who  was also cited in the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s Statutory Report as being the number four advertiser in children’s lives.

Commenting on the polling results, Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications | Advocacy, Alcohol Action Ireland, said:

This brief insight into people’s thinking shows real concern for the level of alcohol advertising our children are being exposed to in their daily lives. The Public Health Alcohol Act, if it is to meet the objectives set, must be implemented in full. The current government committed to doing so in its 2020 Programme for Government and we expect that this commitment will be honoured.

Dr Sheila Gilheany, CEO, Alcohol Action Ireland, said:

There can be no excuse for such inordinate delay, especially when we know the high level of young people who are enticed into alcohol use way too young. If we expect better public health outcomes for a new generation we must work to slow the drivers of demand, such as alcohol advertising.




The report of the findings from the Ireland Think poll can be found here.

The poll was conducted on Saturday November 13th on a representative sample of 1,292 people.

The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8%. A group of 4,000