Alcohol is not an ordinary commodity. When access to alcohol is more widely available and sold very cheaply in supermarkets with sophisticated and unregulated advertising and marketing, there are bound to be social and economic costs and consequences. Too often young people are branded as the problem. They are not the problem, but are just responding to the environment we as a society have created.
We believe that the balance in current public policy on alcohol has swung too far in favour of the drinks industry’s interests and as a result is contributing to and facilitating unhealthy levels and patterns of alcohol consumption amongst the general population. It is also failing to adequately protect children and young people under 18 from alcohol-related harm. As a result Ireland has one of the highest levels of alcohol consumption and binge drinking among young people in Europe. The 2011 ESPAD Report of 15 and 16 year olds across 36 European countries, found that in the 30 days prior to the survey; 20% of 16 year olds were weekly drinkers, 52% of girls and 48% of boys had drunk alcohol, 40% had 5+ drinks on a single drinking occasion and 23% had one or more episodes of drunkenness. There is no safe level of alcohol consumption for young people under 18. Young people who begin to drink before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence at some time in their lives, compared to those who have their first drink at 20 or older.
While we welcome the decision of the current Government to publish the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, it is vital that the next Government proceed to enact and commence this legislation and implement the key provisions in the legislation in the areas of marketing and advertising, price and supply in line with the recommendations of the National Substance Misuse Strategy Group report. We also believe that the next Government should phase out the sponsorship of major sporting events by the drinks industry.
We strongly welcome the introduction of minimum pricing as the evidence confirms that increase in price greatly reduces alcohol consumption and in turn alcohol-related harm among young people who are particularly price sensitive. We also support the regulation of alcohol advertising and marketing, including a ban on outdoor advertising and a 9pm threshold for alcohol advertising on TV. We welcome the proposal to commence Section 9 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 and to introduce the structural separation of alcoholic products from other products in mixed trading premises, such as supermarkets, convenience stores, petrol stations. We were disappointed that the current Government did not progress the recommendation to phase out the sponsorship of major sporting events by the drinks industry and believe this must happen if we are to adequately protect young people.
Youth Council gives broad welcome to Public Health (Alcohol) Bill
Alcohol legislation: Time’s up on cheap drink, unregulated advertising and unrestricted availability
Government must have bottle to take on drinks lobby-Opinion Piece, Irish Examiner, March 28th 2015
NYCI broadly welcomes measures announced to tackle alcohol misuse, October 2013
Steering Group Report on a National Substance Misuse (Alcohol) Group, February 2012
“Time now please” strong public support for action by Government to address national drink problem https://www.youth.ie/nyci/%E2%80%9CTime-now-please%E2%80%9D-strong-public-support-action-Government-address-national-drink-problem
Report of the Working Group on Sports Sponsorship by the Alcohol Industry, June 2010
Get ‘Em Young, Mapping Young People’s Exposure to Alcohol Marketing in Ireland, 2009