Home > Ministers announce details of proposed Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.

Mongan, Deirdre (2014) Ministers announce details of proposed Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 48, Winter 2013, pp. 1-2.

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On 24 October 2013 Ministers James Reilly, Frances Fitzgerald and Alex White announced that the government had, at its cabinet meeting on 22 October, approved a number measures to be incorporated in a Public Health (Alcohol) Bill to deal with harmful use of alcohol.1 The measures are based on the Steering Group Report on a National Substance Misuse Strategy,2 which was published in February 2012 and contained 45 recommendations under the pillars of supply, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, and research.

Minister of State Alex White, Minister for Health James Reilly, and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald announce measures to deal with alcohol misuse

The table below summarises the recommendations of the Steering Group that require a legislative change, and the corresponding government measures to be provided for in the proposed Bill in relation to minimum unit pricing, alcohol advertising, sports sponsorship, and structural separation of alcohol from other products in mixed trading outlets. 

In addition to the measures outlined below, the proposed Bill will require that labels on alcohol products include the number of grams of alcohol per container, calorific content, and health warnings in relation to consuming alcohol in pregnancy. Public health messaging relating to alcohol will be based on grams of alcohol; weekly low-risk drinking guidelines will be 168 grams (17 standard drinks) for men and 112 grams (11 standard drinks) for women. The other measures set out in the Steering Group report are endorsed by government and will be progressed by the relevant departments and organisations as set out in that report.


International evidence suggests that raising the minimum price of the cheapest alcohol products reduces alcohol consumption and related problems, including mortality rates, crime and traffic accidents. Harmful drinkers tend to buy alcohol that is cheaper than that bought by low-risk drinkers. Cheap alcohol is also attractive to young people. So a minimum price policy is beneficial in that it targets the drinkers causing the most harm to both themselves and society while having little effect on the spending of adult low-risk drinkers.
There is clear evidence that alcohol marketing, including advertising, sponsorship and other forms of promotion, increases the likelihood that adolescents will start to use alcohol, and to drink more if they are already using alcohol. The World Health Organization recommends restricting the volume and content of alcohol marketing communications as a way of reducing alcohol-related harm. While the proposed Bill does place certain limits on alcohol marketing, it either applies these limits in a much more restrictive manner than recommended by the Steering Group or delays the implementation of these limits significantly, and in the case of sports sponsorship, indefinitely.
1. Department of Health (2013, 24 October) Minimum unit pricing and regulation of advertising and sponsorship to be provided for in a Public Health Bill. Press release issued by the Department of Health on the announcement of the proposed Bill. http://health.gov.ie/blog/press-release/ministers-fitzgerald-reilly-and-white-announce-measures-to-deal-with-alcohol-misuse-minimum-unit-pricing-and-regulation-of-advertising-and-sponsorship-to-be-provided-for-in-a-public-health-bill/
2. Department of Health (2012) Steering Group report on a national substance misuse strategy. Dublin: Department of Health. www.drugsandalcohol.ie/16908


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