Drinks industry says Minister Harris’ comments about alcohol companies targeting children with alcohol advertisements are “sensationalist and untrue”

Monday, 4 November 2019

Drinks Ireland, the representative body for drinks companies in Ireland, has strongly rebutted comments made by Minister Harris in the media today, ahead of the advertising restrictions in the Public Health (Alcohol) Act being introduced on November 12th.

Patricia Callan, Director of Drinks Ireland said:

“Minister Harris has incorrectly stated that “large companies have lured our children into alcohol addiction through advertisement.”

“This comment is not merely sensationalist - but it is also simply untrue.

“It’s vital to recognise that in Ireland, the drinks industry has adhered to some of the strictest voluntary advertising rules in the world for both content and volume of alcohol advertising. These codes have existed since 2003 and are endorsed and monitored by the Minister’s own department.

“Taken together, they meant that, among other things, no alcohol advertising can appeal to young people. They also meant that no outdoor advertisement for alcohol could be placed within 100 metres of a school or youth group. Additionally, no alcohol advertising or branding could appear on children’s clothing.

“When it comes to content and placement of adverts, the drinks industry has tended to score better than other sectors in terms of compliance, highlighting the sectors commitment to the rules.

“If we examine the figures around alcohol consumption and youth drinking, they are indicative of the fact that these codes certainly work. Since 2001, the average per adult alcohol consumption has fallen by 23.2% in Ireland.[1] Additionally, alcohol consumption among teenagers went from 12.7% in 2002 to 4.1% in 2014. This figure (4.1%) is well below the European average of 12.9%.[2]

“As an industry, we support the objectives of the Alcohol Act, to tackle harmful and underage drinking. It’s important that measures implemented are evidence-based and proportionate, and that any conversations about said legislation by the Minister are factual and are not misleading. It’s also important to acknowledge work done to date by the industry and other stakeholders, including the Department of Health.”