NYCI primarily concerned with impact of alcohol misuse and harm on children and young people under 18 years – bill, if enacted, will address advertising and marketing of drink, cheap price and availability which impact most on young.
Concern at lack of measures to deal with digital marketing.
The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) has broadly welcomed the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill published today (09.12.15) saying that, if enacted, it would better protect children and young people.
James Doorley, NYCI deputy director at the NYCI – which represents youth groups working with over 380,000 young people – explained: “We have campaigned on this issue for many years, as we believe public policy on alcohol has swung too far in favour of the industry’s interests and as a result is contributing to unhealthy levels of alcohol consumption amongst the general population, in particular it is failing to adequately protect children and young people under 18 from alcohol-related harm.
“All the independent evidence confirms that alcohol advertising and marketing has a significant impact on the age at which children and young people start to drink, the amount they drink, the frequency of drinking and even the strength of the alcoholic products they drink. The earlier children start to drink, and the more they drink at a young age, the more likely they are to suffer alcohol-related harm, now and in the future. Children are particularly drawn to elements of music, characters, story and humour and advertising which glamourizes alcohol consumption,” continued Mr Doorley.
Advertising, Marketing and Promotion of Alcohol
NYCI welcomes the proposals for;
• 9pm watershed for drinks advertising on TV (No TV ads for drink before 9pm)
• Prohibition on advertising and marketing which is appealing to children and young people and that glamourizes alcohol
• Criminal sanction on those who promote or advertise alcohol irresponsibly
• Restriction of alcohol advertising within 200 metres of schools, early years facilities and bans at bus and rail stations
• Alcohol advertising in cinemas for 18 cert films only
Concern at lack of measures to deal with digital marketing
“We are concerned at the lack of measures to deal specifically with online and digital marketing and promotion of alcohol and we would like to see more being done on this. We do see potential in the proposal to impose criminal sanctions on those who advertise alcohol irresponsibly as a means of holding the drinks industry to account for irresponsible online and digital advertising and marketing to young people,” added Mr Doorley.
NYCI has also welcomed the proposal to introduce minimum pricing which it says will address the sale of cheap alcohol in some supermarkets as a loss leader.
“Many young people under 18 years of age access alcohol from supermarkets, where prices are very low and significant amounts of alcohol can be purchased cheaply. Children and young people are particularly price sensitive and the experience in other countries is that when the price increases the consumption decreases. We are concerned at binge drinking and young people drinking high strength alcohol and minimum price will in our view help address and reduce this. We agree with the comments of the Minister of Health that minimum pricing is the only way to tackle this issue as the supermarkets will still be able to sell at a loss if there is a general price increase and can circumvent a ban on below cost selling,” said Mr Doorley.
“We support structural separation of alcoholic products from other products in mixed trading premises, such as supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol stations. In terms of visibility and availability it is important that alcohol is displayed separately and sold at a separate counter/cashier in retail outlets engaged in mixed trading. We welcome the proposal that alcohol products will no longer be displayed like ‘everyday’, ‘ordinary’ products. Stores will have to choose to store alcohol either in a separate area of the store, or in a closed cabinet. We will, however, have to study the legislation in more detail to ensure what is proposed is effective and practical and does not contain any loopholes – which has been a problem with previous voluntary codes in this area,” said Mr Doorley.
“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. This bill recognises that the law and public policy has not kept pace with changes in the advertising, promotion and sale of alcohol in Ireland.
“We estimate that over the last twenty five years there have been at least 12 committees and up to 15 reports on alcohol detailing the measures required to address it. The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill presents an opportunity to move beyond analysis and recommendations and towards action. We have to study the bill in more detail but we welcome the evidence based approach and the focus on advertising and marketing, the availability and price of alcohol which if enacted and implemented will prioritise the health and well being of children and young people over the sales and profits of the drinks industry,” concluded Mr Doorley.
For further information, please contact Daniel Meister, Communications Manager at NYCI on 01 425 5955 or 087 781 4903 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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 and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people.