Louth TD believes parts of Public Health Alcohol Bill “goes too far” Photo: David Jones/PA Wire
Louth TD Declan Breathnach, called in the Dáil last week for a balanced approach in relation to the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015.
The Bill introduces minimum unit pricing and the structural segregation of alcohol from other products in supermarkets and other retail outlets, provides for detailed health warnings, including information on links between alcohol and cancer, on labels and imposes restrictions, including a 9 p.m. broadcasting watershed before which alcohol advertisements cannot be aired.
“I welcome any measures to tackle alcohol abuse, change our drinking culture and discourage the scourge of underage drinking.
“While I welcome many aspects of this Bill, I feel it goes too far in relation to the rules on detailed health warnings on labels which are to comprised approximately one third of the label.
“This relates to product sold in Ireland. I pointed out that this places undue expense on small distillers and craft brewers who would not have the funding to produce two separate labels.
“No other country has introduced a mandatory cancer warning on alcohol products and in this respect the Bill goes too far.”
Alcohol Action Ireland in a statement last week welcomed the commencement of the Bill before Dail Éireann last week, calling it a “major milestone for the proposed legislation especially at a time when alcohol consumption in Ireland continues to rise and alcohol harms have never been more pronounced.”
According to Alcohol Action Ireland, over the duration of the two-year legislative delay, national consumption levels of alcohol have continued to rise, with a further 2,100 lives lost to alcohol related illnesses.
It also says over 100,000 children have commenced drinking while alcohol continues to be a contributing factor in half of all suicides in Ireland.
While welcoming aspects of the Bill, Deputy Breathnach stresses the importance of ensuring that small distillers and craft brewers in the area are not disproportionately impacted upon
“We have a number of thriving distilling and craft brewing businesses in our region, which bring huge benefits in terms of jobs and also tourism.”
“I also pointed to the fact that if we introduce minimum unit pricing, this measure must be matched by similar legislation north of the border, otherwise, this will send 1,000s across the border to purchase alcohol, as is already happening.”
“This is the context in which we need to ensure a balanced approach in supporting the Bill.