Alcohol Action Ireland believes the Programme for Government offers real potential to reduce alcohol harm

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• FF, FG & Greens renew commitment to Public Health Alcohol Act and Minimum Unit Pricing

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national independent advocate for reducing alcohol harm, has today (Friday 19th) welcomed the commitments to reducing alcohol harms, outlined in ‘Programme for Government – Our Shared Future’ negotiated by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party. 

The Programme outlines a firm assurance to implement, in full, the Public Health Alcohol Act (PHAA) and ‘honour our longstanding commitment to introducing minimum unit pricing’. 

This historic public health legislation was enacted some 600 days yet significant measures designed to lower alcohol consumption to a targeted 9.1 litre per capita have failed to be commenced. The full and coherent implementation of the suite of measures can reduce alcohol consumption and the related harms. 

Alcohol Action note a number of other pledges, which can also support public health objectives to reduce alcohol harm across society, namely to: 

  • Establish a Citizens’ Assembly on drug use*; 
  • ‘move away from the current self-regulating regime for advertising’ (Media) – an objective central to implementing PHAA’s Section 13: Content of Advertisements;  
  • Introduce a ‘Public Health Obesity Act, including examining restrictions on promotion and advertising aimed at children’, and
  • Establish an Online Safety Commission who will ‘ensure that advertising, sponsorship, and product placement are not harmful’.

We also note a commitment to establish ‘in the first 30 days of Government’ a Night time Economy Taskforce, which will:

  • Conduct a full review of the regulations and policy framework governing our night-time culture at national and local level, including the staggering of trading hours for pubs, late bars, clubs, and restaurants.
  • Modernise our licensing laws and application processes.

The expediency afforded this matter is quite extraordinary, given the 1000 days it took to enact the Public Health Alcohol Act, and the 600 days that has passed since then without commencement of its significant public health measures. 

We look forward to contributing to these developments to ensure that any modernisation will not lead to a further stimulus of greater alcohol use.

We welcome a commitment to ‘continue to deepen and strengthen north-south health links’ and trust that the new Minister for Health will advance early discussions with the NI Executive on the immediate implementation of minimum pricing for alcohol products. 

ENDS

*Alcohol remains the most popular ‘drug of choice’ for 2.5 million people in Ireland, of which, 1.35m people use frequently and harmfully. Last year Ireland drank its way through 10.8 litres per capita and spent close on €7.5bn on alcohol sales. The cost to manage the public health outcomes from such harmful alcohol use is estimated at €1.7bn, while the broader cost to society of alcohol harms is in excess of €3bn.

END