TDs asked to step ‘through the looking glass’ to create a strange parallel world, free from alcohol risk.

Dáil Éireann’s Select Committee on Health to take Public Health Alcohol Bill Committee Stage, Wednesday 20thJune, and to consider yet further dilution of the Bill’s provisions.
Alcohol Action Ireland today (Wednesday, 20 June) has called for an end to alcohol industry’s persistent lobbying of the Oireachtas on the provisions of the Public Health Alcohol Bill. The Bill appears before the Select Committee on Health today, over 900 days after having commenced its legislative passage. The Committee’s Members will consider a range of alcohol industry sponsored amendments, which dilute significant measures already passed by Seanad Éireann.
Central to the amendments now being proposed is a reversal of the previous provisions on labelling which had sought:
  • to inform consumers of the direct link between alcohol and fatal cancers,
  • the stipulation that all labelling information to be contained within an area no less than one third of the printed material, as well as
  • amendments that would, bizarrely, enable alcohol products in our airports and duty-free shops, alone, be sold without any such labelling.
Commenting on these developments, Eunan McKinney, Alcohol Action Ireland, said:
“At a time when the awareness and importance of accurate, and timely, health information is so acute, it seems extraordinary that some TDs would, yet again, bow to the commercial interests of the alcohol industry and conclude that protecting public health must be relegated yet again.
By accepting these alcohol industry amendments, which will weaken the Bill, the Oireachtas is to believe that a strange parallel world, an ‘Alice through the looking glass’ fantasy as it were, where no risk will be seen, heard or spoken, can exist!
Are citizens to be denied vital information about known risks to their health, and users of our airports, residents and tourists alike, to transit through a fairy-tale place, seemingly impervious to known risks.”
The alcohol industry has dedicated endless resources to campaigning and lobbying – nationally and internationally, to prevent the passage of this progressive legislation. In the face of such intense pressure those political representatives who have steadfastly retained their support are to be commended.
At its core, the Public Health Alcohol Bill is a pragmatic and modest objective to reduce our whole-of-population alcohol consumption, so improving public health outcomes, lessening alcohol-related harms and better protect our children, families and communities.
In the time since the Bill began its passage, over 900 days ago, sadly the shocking levels of alcohol related harms have continued unabated:
  • 2,700 deaths were alcohol related; that is three deaths per day.
  • 9,894 cases of alcohol related self-harm have been treated.
  • 1.35 million hospital beds have been lost to alcohol related illnesses at a cost of €1.1 billion.
  • 762,451 days of alcohol related absenteeism at a cost of €126m.