Govt Supports New Proposals To Tackle Alcohol Consumption

The government has signed off on new proposals by the Department of Health to cut down on alcohol consumption in Ireland to the OECD average by 2020.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said the proposed Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 is part of a range of measures designed to reduce alcohol consumption.

The proposals will work to prevent the sale of very cheap alcohol and will involve health labelling and warnings on products, including calorie counts.

There will also be new enforcement powers for Environmental Health Officers and police to enforce the separation of alcohol within stores.

Environmental Health Officers will also be empowered to police minimum unit pricing, health labelling, marketing and advertising.

"Most Irish adults drink too much and many drink dangerously," Minister Varadkar said. "This has an enormous impact on our society and economy through greater illness and higher health costs, public order and violent offences, road traffic collisions, injuries and absence from work. It is also associated with many suicides and instances of sexual violence, domestic violence and child harm.

"This legislation is the most far-reaching proposed by any Irish Government. For the first time alcohol is being addressed as a public health measure which makes this a legislative milestone. It deals with all of the important aspects that must be addressed including price, availability, information and marketing.

"This matter has been debated for six years, since the establishment of the Working Group on a National Substance Misuse Strategy. A Bill has been on the cards since the Government decision in 2013. We have been talking about for too long. It is time to take action."

The Bill will also see restrictions on the advertising and marketing of alcohol from 2016, including a broadcast watershed on television and radio. It will also be illegal to market or advertise alcohol in a manner that is appealing to children.

Also included will be the regulation of sports sponsorship for the first time.


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