Youth Council broadly welcomes measures announced to tackle alcohol misuse
The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI), the umbrella body that represents youth organisations, has broadly welcomes the set of decisions made today (24.10.13), to tackle alcohol misuse in Ireland.
The decisions arise out of the February 2012 recommendations of the National Substance Misuse Strategy Group of which the NYCI was a member. The organisation warns, however, that as many plans and decisions have been announced previously, the key focus now should be swift and rapid implementation.
Minimum unit pricing
Reacting to the measures announced, James Doorley, NYCI deputy director said: “The decision to implement minimum unit pricing for alcohol – which has been successful in reducing alcohol misuse in Canada – is welcome and the decision to move forward on this on an all-island basis is positive. The Scottish Government have already decided to move forward and it’s positive to hear that initial legal challenges from the drinks industry have been unsuccessful. Removing very cheap alcohol from the market will reduce the amount of harmful drinking among young people.”
Alcohol advertising and marketing
“We welcome the decisions to legislate and regulate advertising and marketing as it plays a significant role in encouraging young people to drink at an earlier age, to drink more and drink more frequently. We need to regulate and reduce the amount of advertising and marketing that children and young people are exposed to. We welcome the news that the ‘voluntary’ drinks industry led codes are to be scrapped as this was effectively the drinks industry regulating itself. A real danger is that the drinks industry will further shift their advertising and marketing campaigns online and the decisions announced today are silent on that,” continued Mr Doorley.
Structural separation of alcohol products
“We welcome the decision on the structural separation of alcohol products from other products in mixed retail outlets. The existing ‘responsible retail’ code was voluntary, drawn up by retailers, full of holes and exceptions and largely self policed. NYCI believes we need to move towards full structural separation of alcohol in mixed trading outlets as provided for in Section 9 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008,” stated Mr Doorley.
Sponsorship of sport
“We are disappointed that action on drinks industry sponsorship of sport has been referred to yet another working group and no action is being taken. NYCI participated in the previous working group on sports sponsorship that reported in 2010 and it is unlikely that the new group will discover anything which the previous groups and reports on this didn’t,” said Mr Doorley.
“We note that Minister Reilly stated at the press conference that if Government waited to produce the perfect report, no decisions would ever have been made. While we are disappointed that some of the recommendations of the National Substance Misuse Group have been abandoned or watered down, overall we think there is enough in what was announced today to impact on alcohol misuse and alcohol related harm among children and young people. The key issue now is to move from decisions and rhetoric to action and implementation,” concluded Mr Doorley.
About National Youth Council of Ireland
NYCI is a membership-led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests of voluntary youth organisations working with over 380,000 young people, and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people. www.youth.ie