The Government has announced a range of measures designed to deal with alcohol misuse in Ireland, including minimum unit pricing and restrictions on alcohol advertising.

The proposals are based on the recommendations contained in the 2012 report of the National Substance Misuse Strategy Steering Group.

The key measure is the drafting of new legislation, the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which will provide for the following:

  • minimum unit pricing per gram of alcohol.  This will specifically target alcohol which is cheap relative to its strength.
  • special labelling of alcohol products, to include health warnings on all drink containers and promotional materials and details of the amount of pure alcohol measured in grams and the calorie count in each container or measure.
  • limitations on alcohol advertising and marketing on television and radio, in cinemas and outdoor and print media.
  • structural separation of alcohol from other products in shops.
  • enhanced enforcement powers for Environmental Health Officers.

The Government also proposes placing the existing voluntary code on sports sponsorship on a statutory footing.  A working group will be set up to examine the impact of regulating sponsorship of sporting events by alcohol companies and to produce a report within 12 months.

The Department of Health will also report annually on the implementation of other measures such as communicating public health information relating to alcohol, adjusting the weekly low-risk drinking guidelines downwards and reducing the average per capita alcohol consumption.

Publication of the heads of the new Bill is awaited.