Home > Notification of Draft Regulations Under Section 12 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018.

Ireland. Department of Health. (2022) Notification of Draft Regulations Under Section 12 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018. Brussels: European Commission.

External website: https://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/tris/e...

Notification on TRIS, The Technical Regulation Information System. EU Member States and other participating countries notify their draft rules in those fields to the Commission.

3. Originating Department: Tobacco and Alcohol Control Unit

4. Notification number: 2022/0441/IRL - B00

5. Title: Notification of Draft Regulations Under Section 12 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018

6. Products Concerned: The Draft Regulations relate to alcohol products.

7. Notification Under Another Act:
- Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers: Articles 40, 43, 44 and 45
- The Draft Regulations are also being notified under Regulation EU, No. 1169/2011 Food Information to Consumers

8. Main content
In accordance with Directive (EU) 2015/1535, Ireland notified the European Commission of the draft Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 on 27 January 2016 and amendments to the Bill were notified on 3 February 2018. In relation to the proposals on labelling of alcohol products (section 12 of the Bill) the Commission’s response on 2 May 2018 stated that it could not assess the draft measure without more detailed information in relation to its modalities, i.e. the regulations which would provide the detail on how the requirement would operate. The draft regulations attached with this submission are those modalities.

Under section 12 of the Act labels on alcohol products must contain:
i. A warning to inform people of the danger of alcohol consumption.
ii. A warning to inform people of the danger of alcohol consumption when pregnant.
iii. A warning to inform people of the direct link between alcohol and fatal cancers.
iv. The quantity of grams of alcohol contained in the product.
v. The number of calories contained in the alcohol product.
vi. A link to a health website which gives information on alcohol and related harms.

In addition, section 12 provides that those selling alcohol in on-licenced premises will be required to display a notice containing the same health warnings, a link to the public health website and an indication to the customer that the alcohol and calorie content of alcohol products for all ‘poured drinks’ is available in a document on request.

The draft regulations provide the detail for the obligation under section 12. In relation to the requirements for health warnings, the requirement under 12(i) to provide for a warning to inform people of the danger of alcohol consumption has been specified as a warning on the risk of liver disease. In addition, the requirement for a pregnancy warning under 12(ii) can be fulfilled through using a specified pictogram. The health website required at 12(vi) is www.askaboutalcohol.ie.

The draft regulations also provide that for alcohol products which have a small surface area the health warnings and information can be of a smaller size or a flag label can be used.

Finally, the regulations specify that websites which sell alcohol products must display the same information as would be available to the consumer in a physical shop so that the online consumer has all the information at the point of purchase.

9. Brief Statement of Grounds
The volume and patterns of alcohol consumption in Ireland are responsible for an enormous public health burden. The data shows that the Irish population is not aware of the health risks of alcohol and the draft regulations submitted here are designed to ensure that Irish consumers are directly informed of those risks and are assisted to make healthier choices about their alcohol consumption.

Alcohol consumption levels in Ireland have remained extremely high in recent years despite extended closures of on-licensed premises due to COVID-19. 50% of Irish drinkers drink to a hazardous level and one in five drinkers have an alcohol use disorder using DSM-5 criteria rising to one in three drinkers under 25.

15% of children aged 13 have already had their first alcoholic drink and one in twenty have already been really drunk. By age 17 the vast majority have had their first drink and over 60% have been really drunk. An additional concern is that the data show that young Irish females are now consuming equal amounts of alcohol as young males and in some categories are consuming more.

Alcohol consumption creates an enormous burden on public health in Ireland causing an estimated 4.8% of all deaths and 5.2% of disability adjusted life years. Alcohol attributable morbidity is trending upward with hospitalisations doubling since the mid-1990s and illnesses becoming more complex. 4% of total health expenditure will be on alcohol related disease for the next 30 years unless Ireland changes its populations understanding of and relationship with alcohol.

Despite the public health burden caused by alcohol consumption here, awareness of the health harms remains low especially among younger age groups. 16% do not know if it is safe to consume alcohol while pregnant, 79% do not know of the breast cancer risk and those aged 15-24 were typically less aware of the risks than others. There is a demand to know more; 78% believe that government has a responsibility to implement public health measures to address high alcohol consumption and 95% support including details of alcohol-related harms on labels.

The draft regulations are designed to be effective in accordance with international best practice and to be proportionate including a very long lead-in time (3 years) which will not begin until the regulations have been finalised and options **available for businesses to minimise the impact on their processes. The draft regulations are designed to be effective in accordance with international best practice and to be proportionate. In order to reduce the impacts on economic operators the requirement has a three year lead-in time. In addition, the lead-in time will not begin until the submitted regulations have been finalised and businesses have certainty about their obligations. Additional provisions designed to facilitate businesses include reducing the minimum dimensions of the health information for alcohol containers of a smaller size and allowing for the use of a flag label to contain the required information.

10. Reference Documents - References of the Basic Texts: https://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2018/act/24/enacted/en/html


Note from Alcohol Action Ireland

According to Directive (EU) 2015/1535 Member States must inform the Commission of any draft technical regulation prior to its adoption. Starting from the date of notification of the draft, a three-month standstill period – during which the notifying Member State cannot adopt the technical regulation in question – enables the Commission and the other Member States to examine the notified text and to respond appropriately. 

Under the current EU framework legislation on labelling: REGULATION (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, alcohol products above 1.2% ABV are exempt. The same Regulation provides that Member States may adopt measures requiring additional mandatory particulars for specific types or categories of foods, justified on grounds of at least one of the following: (a) the protection of public health; or (b) the protection of consumers. 

The 2022 regulations, once commenced by the Minister for Health, provide the alcohol producers with a further three years production lead in time.

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