Rigorous online safeguards being rolled out to prevent minors from seeing or interacting with alcohol brands online

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

• Irish drinks industry agrees to a number of commitments to tackle underage drinking
• Alcohol brands, and non-alcoholic alternatives, to display symbols or written age restrictions in bid to tackle underage drinking
• New figures show that underage drinking has fallen by 11% in Ireland since 2014

Reducing the exposure of young people to alcohol online by continuing to work with digital platforms to implement rigorous online safeguards, is among the commitments made by Ireland’s drinks industry today in a bid to drive down underage drinking.

It is one of five clear and direct actions announced by the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD), as part of a new drive to accelerate efforts to reduce underage drinking globally. Drinks Ireland, which represents Irish drinks producers and brand owners, has signed up to the actions at a national level.

The actions that will be taken to tackle underage drinking include:
• The introduction of clear age-restriction symbols or equivalent words on all alcohol products, including no-alcohol variants. This will start to be rolled out immediately, with compliance across all markets by 2024.
• The industry will continue to work with leading digital platforms, to implement rigorous online safeguards in its ongoing efforts to prevent minors from seeing or interacting with alcohol brands online. Safeguards will be in place for at least 95% of online alcohol marketing by 2024.
• The industry will not market alcohol-free extensions of alcohol brands to anyone underage.
• The industry will seek to work with online retailers, postal services, and delivery companies to develop a global code of conduct for the online sale and delivery of alcohol.

The news comes following the release of new figures earlier this month that show that underage alcohol consumption has declined substantially in Ireland.

The figures show that 69% of young people in Ireland aged between 10-17 have never had an alcoholic drink, an increase of 11% since 2014. The Irish study, which was part of a global study for the World Health Organisation (WHO), was commissioned by the Department of Health and carried out by the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway.

Patricia Callan, Director of Drinks Ireland said:

“Ireland is moving in the right direction when it comes to underage drinking, which is something we are proud to have done our part in achieving.

“For example, since 2003, the industry has proudly adhered to some of the strictest advertising codes in the world for both content and volume of alcohol advertising. These rules, among other things, have meant that no alcohol advertising can target young people.

“We believe that underage drinking should absolutely never occur, and acknowledge that in a changing world, where media is consumed online by young people, further action must be taken to tackle underage drinking.

“We are proud to sign up to IARD’s commitments today on behalf of the Irish drinks industry.”