No room for complacency on new alcohol laws

By June Shannon Policy News   |   6th Nov 2018

Some measures in Public Health Alcohol Bill will be not be introduced until 2021

The Irish Heart Foundation has welcomed the implementation of the Public Health Alcohol Bill however, it warned that the staggered approach its implementation, meant that it will have taken up to six years since the Bill was first commenced in 2015, for some of the measures to take effect.

Yesterday (Monday 05 November 2018) the Minster for Health, Simon Harris TD, signed the order to commence 23 sections of the Public Health Alcohol Bill. The legislation, which was passed overwhelmingly by the Oireachtas last month, legislates for alcohol as a public health priority.

The staggered approach to implementation of the Bill however, means that not all measures will be introduced at the same time and some will not be introduced until 2021; up to six years since the Bill was first commenced.

From November 12th, 2019, alcohol advertising in or on buses, trains etc, at public transport stops or stations and within 200 metres of a school, crèche or local authority playground will be prohibited. Alcohol advertising in cinemas will not be permitted except around films with an 18 classification or in a bar located in a cinema and children’s clothing that promotes alcohol will also be banned.

From 12 November 2020 there will be strict rules and regulations around the location of alcohol products and advertising in shops.

From 12 November 2021 alcohol advertising will be banned on a sports area during a sporting event, at events aimed at children or at those in which the majority of participants are children. Alcohol sponsorship of events aimed at children, events which the majority of competitors are children and events involving driving or racing cars will also be prohibited.

"There is no room for complacency. Alcohol related harm is still having a very real and detrimental impact on people’s lives, and on our already creaking health service,"

Kathryn Reilly, Policy Manager , Irish Heart Foundation

Minister Harris said: “This is the first time in the history of our State that we have endeavoured to use public health legislation to address issues in respect of alcohol. It is, therefore, a ground-breaking measure.

“For the very first time in our history, we are legislating for alcohol as it affects our health and it is right and proper that we do so.

“We know that we have a relationship with alcohol in this country that is not good, damages our health, harms our communities and harms many families. The measures in this Bill will make a real difference to changing the culture of drinking in Ireland over a period of time.”

However minimum unit pricing, which is a key component of the Bill, requires a separate Government decision and the introduction of health warnings on alcohol labels will have to be notified at EU level before its commencement. There will then be a three-year lead in time before health warnings on labels can be introduced.

Commenting Kathryn Reilly, Policy Manager, The Irish Heart Foundation said it had been a “long arduous process” to bring the Bill through the Oireachtas and the practical enactment of the measures contained in the legislation will signal “a new chapter in public health in Ireland.”

“However, there is no room for complacency. Alcohol related harm is still having a very real and detrimental impact on people’s lives, and on our already creaking health service. We are seeing that many of the measures are staggered in their implementation, which would mean that it will be four, five and six years respectively from when the Bill commenced to these important measures taking practical effect. This means that public health advocates must continue to ensure that this issue is not seen as a done issue and it continues to remain high on the national health agenda,” Ms Reilly said.


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advocacy alcohol alcohol. heart. stroke legislation policy Public Health Alcohol Bill

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