Public Health Bill Causing Major Headache for Alcohol Companies

John Burke reports on the introduction to the Dáil of the Public Health Alcohol Bill (2015) and looks at the controversy it has caused between television, advertising and alcohol brands

The Public Health Alcohol Bill (2015) has had a rocky path through the Senate to the Dáil since its controversial release two years ago. This Bill was released on November 8th, 2015 and was pushed strongly by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. The legislation was finally introduced to the Dáil on February 6.

During the Bill’s introduction the Taoiseach signalled his unwavering support for the legislation to Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams who was in huge favour of the Bill being passed and had initiated for it to be put forward in numerous Dáil meetings ,saying that he had “absolute commitment to this legislation, which I published as Minister for Health”.

A broadcasting watershed will also be brought into place, meaning that alcohol cannot be advertised before 9pm. An impact that will be felt by all alcohol producers. The bill states that: “A person shall not advertise, or cause to be advertised, an alcohol product unless the advertisement complies with the section involved”.

This bill was put in place by the Oireachtas to hopefully cut out the a binge drinking culture which has gripped the country and to deter younger people, who are under age, from consuming alcohol. The act finally came through after pushes for the Liquor Act in a Bill made in 2003 and 2008.

The Bill has been welcomed by the majority of alcohol brands including Jameson and Heineken who have tried to regulate their own actions under strict advertising codes. Many worry that this bill is going to destroy the Irish Industry and that the companies In Ireland will just simply leave the country — if that is the case it will leave a huge number of people out of work.

The Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland has sought to work with the Department of Health to regulate online and digital marketing, a key medium when seeking to regulate advertising to under 18s.

The proposals on structural separation and how alcohol is displayed in shops undermine the sensibilities of people and what the bill says in regard to labelling has just damaged producers that are trying to get a foothold in the export market.

The Bill is expected progress to the next stage in early April when the government receive it back from a review by the European Commission.

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