Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 201 - Substance misuse [17164/14.] [Alcohol]

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 201 - Substance misuse [17164/14.] [Alcohol]. (10 Apr 2014)

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201. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health his response to statements made recently on behalf of the drinks industry leaders calling for a collaborative approach in addressing alcohol consumption levels here; if he will provide an update on the progress on its priorities for tackling alcohol abuse here; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [17164/14]  

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly):  As the Deputy might be aware, in 2009 the Department of Health established a Steering Group to advise Ministers on a new Substance Misuse Strategy. The Group included cross-departmental and cross-sectoral representation in order to effectively reflect a whole-population approach. The Steering Group comprised representatives from relevant Departments and agencies, medical professional bodies, the community and voluntary sectors and the alcohol industry. The Group published its report in 2012 and the two representatives of the alcohol industry, the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) and Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Society Ltd (MEAS), published separate minority reports at the same time.   Last year Government has approved an extensive package of measures to deal with alcohol misuse to be incorporated in a Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. These measures are based on the recommendations contained in the Steering Group Report on a National Substance Misuse Strategy, 2012. The package of measures to be implemented will include provision for minimum unit pricing, regulation of the marketing and advertising of alcohol, regulation of sports sponsorship, structural separation of alcohol from other products in mixed trading outlets and labelling of alcohol products. Work on developing a framework for the necessary Department of Health legislation is continuing. It is hoped to publish a General Scheme of a Bill in the coming months.   

As I mentioned earlier, this work is based on the recommendations of the Steering Group Report, in which the alcohol industry was represented.  However, it is for my Department, with the assistance of the Office of the Attorney General and in conjunction with other relevant Departments, to draft legislation to implement the Government decision. In this regard, the alcohol industry seeks a role for itself in public health policy areas that extends far beyond their role as producers and retailers of alcohol. They, like all other relevant stakeholders, will have an opportunity to put forward their views during the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.  The Government decision also endorsed the other recommendations in the Report of the Steering Group on a Substance Misuse Strategy.  My Department has written to the lead Departments and Agencies requesting them to commence work on the implementation of these recommendations. The Health Service Executive has responsibility for implementing a number of these recommendations and this is reflected in their service plan for 2014.

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