Warm welcome for alcohol labelling – an important step to ensure the consumer’s right to know the risks from alcohol 

Media Release Alcohol Action Ireland

22 May 2023

Warm welcome for alcohol labelling – an important step to ensure the consumer’s right to know the risks from alcohol 


Alcohol Action Ireland, today 22 May 2023, warmly welcomed the announcement that Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, has signed into law, Section 12 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 which provides for alcohol products being sold in Ireland to have health information labels.

These regulations will ensure that no alcohol product can be sold without bearing a warning that informs the public that:

(i) “Drinking alcohol causes liver disease”

(ii) displays a health symbol intended to inform the public of the danger of alcohol consumption when pregnant, and

(iii) “There is a direct link between alcohol and fatal cancers”

In addition, the regulations make it mandatory that the alcohol and calorie content within the product is stated, and that the public health alcohol information website ‘askaboutalcohol.ie’ is displayed. Similar notices will also have to be placed in licensed premises.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr Sheila Gilheany, CEO Alcohol Action Ireland, said:

“This is a very significant development in alcohol policy and we commend Minister Donnelly for his leadership in this action. This measure goes some way to ensuring consumers are informed about some of the risks from alcohol.

Public health organisations and individuals across Ireland through the Alcohol Health Alliance and around the world strongly advocated for this measure because of the scale of the harms being experienced in Ireland from alcohol. While we are pleased that this day has finally come, we are very aware, though, that today:

We know that there is a lack of awareness about the scale of the risk from alcohol. Breast cancer is the third most common cancer in Ireland, and the most common among women. Alcohol use is estimated to be attributable to approximately 7% of these breast cancer cases. However, recent research from the Health Research Board indicates that only 21% of the population correctly identify the link between alcohol and breast cancer.
This measure will play a significant part in ensuring consumers have access to facts. Like all alcohol policy measures, it is not sufficient on its own to fully address the harm being experienced on a daily basis in Ireland. Other important elements of the Alcohol Act still need to be commenced, such as the broadcast watershed for alcohol advertising and restrictions on the content of alcohol advertisements. There are also other concerns such as proposed increases in licensing hours and venues through the Sale of Alcohol Bill which threaten to undo progress made.


We are very aware that many countries have been closely observing Ireland’s progress in this regard and believe, that like the smoking ban, other jurisdictions will likely adopt similar labelling measures. We can be proud that Ireland is leading the way in this regard.
There will be a three-year lead in period. We urge the alcohol industry not to cause any further delay and indeed to show their own commitment to better business practices by adding the labels ahead of the implementation date.

It has already been nearly five years since this measure was democratically mandated by the Oireachtas. We know that there is popular support for it with over 70% agreeing with the need for more information. Alcohol industry ads often include a line, ‘drink responsibly.’ We call on the industry to trade responsibly and accept that health information labelling of alcohol products is a reasonable and proportionate response to the scale of alcohol harm in Ireland.”

ENDS Editor’s notes: 

  1. Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland – group of nearly 60 organisations and individuals who came together to advocate for the measures in the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018.
  2. Alcohol Action Ireland working closely with our partners, European Alcohol Health Alliance, Eurocare, and the European Public Health Alliance, led a campaign to encourage public health advocates to make supportive submissions to the EU process during the recent notification period. By the close of the process, 60 such submissions were made representing 70% of all submissions. For all media enquiries and interview requests, please contact:  Dr Sheila Gilheany, CEO Alcohol Action Ireland,  E: Sheila.gilheany@alcoholactionireland.ie 
    M: 086 2600903  

Other useful resources: Media guide re non-stigmatising language