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Home > The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill - What does it mean?

Health Service Executive. (2018) The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill - What does it mean? Ask About Alcohol Blog, .

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The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill was passed by Dáil Éireann yesterday and will be voted on by Seanad Éireann next week. After this, it is expected to be enacted into law. 


But what is it and what will change?
The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill is designed to tackle Ireland’s harmful relationship with alcohol. It aims to reduce the damage that alcohol causes to people, families and society by reducing the amount of alcohol we drink. It has a focus on protecting children and young people from harm caused by alcohol. It aims to reduce the amount of alcohol Irish people drink to low risk levels. It will regulate and control the availability, promotion and price of alcohol. 


Objectives of the Bill: 

  • Delay the age young people start drinking. The earlier young people start drinking, the greater the risks. When young people to avoid alcohol for as long as possible it’s better for their developing body and brain.
  • Reduce alcohol related harms. There are about 1.3 million harmful drinkers in Ireland and most of us underestimate our drinking.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption to low-risk levels. In Ireland, we drink more than 11 litres of pure alcohol per person. As about  20% of people don’t drink at all, those of us who do drink, probably drink more. Find out more about low-risk alcohol guidelines here.

The Bill will:

  • Set a minimum price per unit of alcohol. A minimum unit price will mean alcohol cannot be sold below a certain cost per unit. This is to prevent cheap, strong alcohol being used to attract young or vulnerable consumers.
  • Ensure health information is carried on alcohol product labels. The cancer and pregnancy risks that come with drinking alcohol will have to be included on product labels. This gives everyone the information they need to manage their own health.
  • Regulate advertising and marketing of alcohol, especially aimed at young people. Marketing of alcohol drives sales and consumption. By regulating advertising and promotion of alcohol, the exposure of children to such promotion will be reduced.
  • Regulate sponsorship of events where the majority of participants or competitors are children. The aim of this is to avoid linking unhealthy products like alcohol with healthy children activities.
  • Separate alcohol products from groceries in shops. This is because the way that alcohol products are displayed in shops can make them more attractive to buy, even if you weren’t intending to buy alcohol.
  • Regulate the sale and supply of alcohol in certain circumstances. Alcohol is not a food product or an ordinary commodity such as milk or tea, so these measures will ensure it is not sold as such. 

Read more detail on the measures in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill



The high profile of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill may be prompting questions from your child or teenager. When alcohol is a topical subject in the news, it can be a great time to start having a meaningful conversation about alcohol with young people. To help you start the conversation, visit our Parents section to download or order a copy of Alcohol and Drugs: A Parent’s Guide. It has practical advice to help you communicate with your child about alcohol and other drugs.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Guideline
Drug Type
Intervention Type
Harm reduction, Policy
5 October 2018
Health Service Executive
Corporate Creators
Health Service Executive

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