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O'Dwyer, Claire (2019) Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 71, Autumn 2019, pp. 6-8.

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The Public Health (Alcohol) Act 20181 was signed into law by the President of Ireland on 17 October 2018. The Act faced much opposition from various interest groups and the three-year interval between publication of the Bill and enactment of the Act was the longest ever in Ireland. This Act is particularly significant because, for the first time in Ireland, alcohol is being treated as a public health issue. The aim of the Act is to reduce alcohol consumption in Ireland and the harms it causes at a population level. There is a particular emphasis on reducing harm to young people and children, who are most vulnerable to the negative consequences of alcohol consumption. The first restrictions on advertising recently became law on 12th November.


Summary of the Act

Table 1 summarises some of the main provisions in the Act, their rationale, the measures introduced thus far, and those yet to be commenced. 



The Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 provides a number of evidence-based measures designed to reduce alcohol consumption at a population level. The first restrictions around alcohol advertising have now become law and several other provisions have been commenced. Timely implementation of the remaining provisions is needed given the current high rates of alcohol consumption, binge drinking, and alcohol dependence in Ireland.8,9


1  Government of Ireland (2018) Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018. Available online at: http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2018/act/24/enacted/en/html

2  Cousins G, Mongan D, Barry J, Smyth B, Rackard M and Long J (2016) Potential impact of minimum unit pricing for alcohol in Ireland: evidence from the National Alcohol Diary Survey. Alcohol Alcohol., 51(6): 734–40. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/26346/

3  Alcohol Action Ireland (2019) Annual alcohol market review and price survey 2019. Dublin: Alcohol Action Ireland. Available online at: https://alcoholireland.ie/alcohol-action-ireland-release-annual-alcohol-market-review-price-survey-2019/

4  Babor TF, Caetano R, Casswell S, Edwards G, Giesbrecht N, Graham K, et al. (2010) Alcohol: no ordinary commodity: research and public policy. 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/16134/

5  O’Dwyer C and Mongan D (2019) Public awareness of alcohol-related health conditions in Ireland: findings from the Healthy Ireland Survey. Drugnet Ireland, 70: 19-21. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/31013/

6  Anderson P, de Bruijn A, Angus K, Gordon R and Hastings G (2009) Impact of alcohol advertising and media exposure on adolescent alcohol use: a systematic review of longitudinal studies. Alcohol Alcohol, 44(3): 229–43.

7  Hingson RW, Heeren T and Winter MR (2006) Age at drinking onset and alcohol dependence: age at onset, duration, and severity. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 160(7): 739–46.

8  Department of Health (2018) Healthy Ireland Survey 2018: summary of findings. Dublin: Department of Health. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/29851/

9  Long J and Mongan D (2014) Alcohol consumption in Ireland 2013: analysis of a National Alcohol Diary Survey. Dublin: Health Research Board. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/22138/

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Intervention Type
Issue Title
Issue 71, Autumn 2019
December 2019
Page Range
pp. 6-8
Health Research Board
Issue 71, Autumn 2019

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