In a presentation today to the Joint Oireachtas Health and Children Committee on the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) broadly welcomed the legislation, while outlining some concerns and measures which need to be strengthened and clarified as the bill goes through the legislative process.
Concern at impact of alcohol related harm on children and young people
Speaking at the hearing James Doorley, Deputy Director, National Youth Council of Ireland said: “Ireland faces significant social problems with alcohol related harm. We are concerned that children and young people under 18 are beginning to start drinking at a younger age, are drinking greater volumes of alcohol and drinking more frequently, with all the associated negative consequences. We are also concerned about the impact of alcohol related harm on children and young people in households where there is alcohol misuse by parents or family members.
“When alcohol is widely available in supermarkets and convenience stores, is sold at pocket-money prices with sophisticated and pervasive advertising and marketing we shouldn’t be surprised at the current consumption patterns and subsequent problems.”
Broad welcome for efforts to tackle price, promotion and availability of alcohol products
Mr Doorley explained that for too long successive Governments have set up committees, drafted reports and made recommendations without following through with action: “NYCI was represented on the National Substance Misuse Strategy Group which drew up the recommendations which this legislation is based on, and we welcome the introduction of this draft bill which does address some of the key issues such as price, promotion and availability of alcohol products.
“We strongly support the introduction of minimum pricing, as the international evidence clearly indicates that this is an effective means of reducing alcohol consumption among children and young people. Children and young people under 18 years are “price sensitive” and therefore this measure will ensure they will purchase and consume less alcohol and drink less frequently which will reduce both the short and long term negative consequences. We outlined to the committee that minimum price must be set at a level which is effective and must be reviewed on a regular basis.”
Alcohol advertising: 9pm watershed
In relation to alcohol advertising and marketing, NYCI outlined to the committee that the evidence is very strong regarding the impact and role of advertising and marketing on young people’s attitude to drinking and their drinking behaviour. The organsation also noted that the public also favour action in this area. A Eurobarometer report from 2010 found that 81% of Irish people were in favour ‘of banning alcohol advertising targeting young people’.
Mr Doorley said: “We welcome a number of the proposals to better regulate alcohol advertising and marketing, however, we are disappointed that the draft legislation to date ignores the recommendations of the National Substance Misuse Strategy Group which proposed a 9pm watershed for alcohol advertising on TV and a ban on outdoor advertising of drinks products. We will be calling for these measures to be included in the bill.”
Alcohol not an ordinary product – shouldn’t be on the shelf beside bread and milk
“We also welcome the proposal to commence Section 9 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 and move towards the structural separation of alcohol products from ordinary products in supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol stations as there has been a huge increase in the availability of drink which contributes to alcohol related harm among young people,” continued Mr Doorley.
Vested interests of Drinks Industry have no place in development of alcohol policy
“This draft legislation is a step in the right direction, although we will be calling for some of the proposals, especially in the area of advertising, to be strengthened. For too long alcohol policy in Ireland was dictated by the vested interests of the drinks industry. This legislation, if strengthened as we will outline today, provides the Oireachtas with the opportunity to prioritise the public health of all, especially of children and young people and address and reduce alcohol related harm in Ireland,” concluded Mr Doorley.
Contact: Daniel Meister, Communications Manager at NYCI: 087 781 4903, 01-478 4122 or email@example.com
Notes to Editors:
National Youth Council of Ireland
The National Youth Council of Ireland is a membership-led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests of voluntary youth organisations working with 380,000 young people, and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people.