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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 307 - Alcohol pricing [38195/14].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 307 - Alcohol pricing [38195/14]. (07 Oct 2014)

External website: http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20a...


Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Health if a targeted measure will be put in place to deal with alcohol misuse such as addressing discounted alcohol prices, banning price-based promotions and the introduction of a statutory code in the area of alcohol merchandising; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38195/14] 

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Addressing the price of alcohol is an important component of any long-term strategic approach to tackling alcohol misuse. There is a link between consumption and harm and evidence that affordability is one of the drivers of increased consumption. The Government has approved an extensive package of measures to deal with alcohol misuse, to be incorporated in a Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. 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. 

The Government has decided that minimum unit pricing is the most effective policy measure to deal with the sale of alcohol at cheap prices. Minimum unit pricing is a mechanism of imposing a statutory floor in price levels per gram of alcohol that must be legally observed by retailers in both the on and off trade sector. This is a targeted measure, designed to prevent the sale of alcohol at very cheap prices. It is mainly aimed at those who are higher risk, such as adolescents and people who have a harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption pattern. It should therefore only have a marginal effect on moderate drinkers. 

The other matters referred to by the Deputy, i.e. the banning of price-based promotions and the introduction of a statutory code in the area of alcohol merchandising, are a matter for my colleague, Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald who has responsibility for the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 2008. 

Section 16 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 2008 contains provisions for the making of regulations concerning conditions for the sale, supply and consumption of intoxicating liquor. The Government has agreed that the forthcoming Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will give Environmental Health Officers statutory enforcement powers in relation to regulations made under Section 16 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 2008. The Department of Justice and Equality has advised that they will consider how best to proceed with the making of these regulations following enactment of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. 

The Government has agreed to replace the current Responsible Retailers of Alcohol in Ireland (RRAI) voluntary code of practice on the sale and display of alcohol products in mixed trading outlets with a statutory code of practice under Section 17 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act, 2011. It is intended that the statutory code will operate for a 2 year period, after which its effectiveness will be jointly evaluated by my Department and the Department of Justice and Equality. The Department of Justice and Equality has advised that preparatory work on the statutory code of practice is currently under way and it is hoped to launch a consultation process on the contents of the code in the coming weeks. 

Work on developing a framework for the necessary Department of Health legislation is continuing and it is hoped to publish a General Scheme of a Bill before the Dáil recess.

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