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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 424 - Alcohol pricing [17886/15].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 424 - Alcohol pricing [17886/15]. (06 May 2015)

424. Deputy Seán Kyneasked the Minister for Health regarding the plans for minimum unit pricing of alcohol, if his attention has been drawn to concerns, notwithstanding the positive implications of the legislation on public health, of the impact on artisan distillers and producers; and if consideration will be given to exempting duty free and travel retail, so as not to place such Irish businesses at a distinct disadvantage to international competitors. [17886/15]


Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The General Scheme of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill was approved by Government on the 3 February 2015. The Scheme includes provisions for minimum unit pricing, health labelling on products that contain alcohol, restrictions on the advertising and marketing of alcohol and the regulation of sports sponsorship. As part of the pre-legislative scrutiny process, the measures were debated by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children. The Committee received over fifty written submissions on the General Scheme of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. The hearings commenced on the 10 March and concluded on the 23 April.


The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will make it illegal to sell or advertise for sale alcohol at a price below a set minimum price. Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) sets a minimum price per gram of alcohol. The minimum price of an alcohol product would be based on the number of grams of alcohol in the product. MUP is a targeted measure, aimed at those who drink in a harmful and hazardous manner, and designed to prevent the sale of alcohol at very cheap prices. MUP is able to target cheaper alcohol relative to its strength because the minimum price is determined by and is directly proportional to the amount of pure alcohol in the drink. The University of Sheffield study reported that the alcohol products most affected by this policy are those that are currently being sold very cheaply, often below cost prices, in the off-trade, i.e. supermarkets and off-licences. It is not expected that minimum unit pricing will affect the price of duty free alcohol products or artisan beers sold at full retail prices. The General Scheme of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill does not provide for any exemptions to minimum unit pricing.


The Department of Health is continuing to work on the preparation of the legislation. Parliamentary Counsel has been assigned to draft the Bill. It is expected that the Bill will be published during the Spring/Summer Session 2015.

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