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Home > Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed).

[Oireachtas] Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed). (15 Feb 2018)


Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."


Deputy John Brassil: I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill. As we all know, the abuse and overuse of alcohol is now a scourge in our society, particularly for the younger generation. Very serious health problems arise from overuse of alcohol, in particular from what is now known as binge drinking. As a nation we need to get to grips with this. I welcome many of the measures in this Bill, which is trying to bring about some measure of control over this problem for the sake our children and grandchildren.


The drinks industry is lobbying hard for changes to this Bill. We have to consider what it has done in recent years such as introducing alcopops which have a high alcohol content and, because they are very sweet and easy to drink, can be consumed in large quantities, leading to serious health issues. It has made cheap drink available. The industry might argue that it is the retail outlets that sell cheap but I think it is a combination of both. I welcome the introduction of minimum pricing.


There is a proposal to state on the label that alcohol can cause cancer. It may cause cancer, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular and other health problems. Should we consider a label that states "Alcohol seriously damages your health", as opposed to specifying a disease such as cancer? Should we look to the industry to fund the HSE and the Government to produce advertisements showing the harmful effects of alcohol? People can then make up their own minds. The alcohol industry will always be one step ahead of us when it comes to advertising. It will always come up with a smarter advertising campaign that will grab the consumer's attention. It might be a better strategy to have the ability and the money to fight back with advertising campaigns that show its harmful effects.


We should also reconsider the restrictions on advertising. If the industry has to move away from television, it will go to the Internet. No matter how big we build the mousetrap, the mouse will always get bigger. We really need to be as clever as the industry and inform people accordingly. These amendments came in late in the day. I would like the Minister to consider them. If we can come up with a better way to inform our population about the harmful effects of alcohol, we should do that. I understand that in France advertising of alcohol was banned approximately 30 years ago. What effect has that had? We could learn from the mistakes or otherwise of places that have banned advertising. I urge that this Bill be passed speedily. It is urgently needed to educate our population and stop it from continuing to overconsume alcohol and especially to stop the scourge of binge drinking among the younger generation.


Deputy Seán Haughey:  I support this landmark Bill. It is a game changer in many respects. It has the same significance as the smoking ban introduced in 2004 in the teeth of strong opposition from vested interests. The time has come to confront our difficult relationship with alcohol……


[For the full debate, click on the link above]

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