New figures show alcohol consumption has fallen in Ireland

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Drinks industry calls for reasonable amendments to labelling and advertising proposals in Alcohol Bill as second stage debate on legislation in Dáil concludes

Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI), the representative body for drinks manufacturers and suppliers in Ireland, has welcomed new figures from the Revenue Commissioners showing that alcohol consumption in Ireland fell in 2017. The new figures come as the second stage debate on the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill concludes in the Dáil, during which the majority of TDs raised concerns about the Bill, including on labelling and advertising restrictions.

The latest figures on alcohol consumptions from Revenues clearance data show that the average per adult consumption of alcohol in 2017 declined by approximately 1.4 per cent. This continues a long-running trend of alcohol consumption falling in Ireland. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), alcohol consumption in Ireland has fallen by 25 per cent since 2005. Additionally, the latest ESPAD report, published in 2016, showed a significant decline in underage alcohol consumption, with Ireland moving from 8th to 28th out of 33 countries analysed over the course of the study.

Patricia Callan, Director of Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) said:

“With the majority of TDs raising concerns about the Alcohol Bill during the second stage debate in the Dáil, including on labelling and advertising restrictions, we are calling on the Government to make reasonable amendments to these measures at committee stage.

“While the drinks industry supports the objectives of the Alcohol Bill, to tackle harmful and underage drinking in Ireland, we believe that any measure introduced as part of this Bill should be rooted in evidence, proportionate and should not represent a barrier to free trade, which we believe is currently the case with the Bill as drafted.”

On labelling Callan said:

“We are calling on the Government to remove the requirement for a cancer warning label from the Bill. No other country in the world has introduced mandatory cancer warnings on alcohol products. Therefore, it could represent a barrier to free trade. Additionally, such a measure would have a hugely negative impact on small producers, resulting in significant additional costs and logistical difficulties.“

On advertising Callan said:

“The Alcohol Bill contains measures that would severely restrict the content and placement of alcohol advertising, including a ban on all forms of a storyline in alcohol ads. These strict new rules, which are not proven to work, are being introduced even though the alcohol industry in Ireland already abides by extremely strict codes regulating how alcohol is advertised. We know that these codes work, given the ongoing fall in alcohol consumption. We are seeking an amendment to the Alcohol Bill to allow alcohol advertisements to include storylines.”