The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill was approved by Government on the 8th day of December 2015. This is the first ever legislation which will regulate alcohol marketing and advertising in Ireland. The bill aims to reduce alcohol consumption in Ireland and to reduce the harms associated with alcohol.

The main provisions of the bill are: minimum unit pricing; health labelling of alcohol products; the regulation of advertising and sponsorship of alcohol products; structural separation of alcohol products in mixed trading outlets; and the regulation of the sale and supply of alcohol in certain circumstances.

Products and Advertisements must bear a warning about the danger of consuming alcohol and a warning about the danger of consuming alcohol while pregnant. Product labels must show energy value and quantity of alcohol in grams and retailers will also have to display health warning signs.

There will be minimum pricing dependent on the grams of alcohol per drink. It shall be an offence to advertise or promote alcohol products at a price below the minimum price set.

Under the Bill it will be prohibited to market or advertise alcohol in a manner that is likely to appeal to children. There will be restrictions on broadcast marketing and advertising to certain times of the day, where advertisements may be placed in outdoor media, cinema advertising, print media and the regulation of sponsorship by alcohol companies. Advertising and marketing of an alcohol product will be prohibited in or near schools, "..including the grounds of the school, or within 200 meters of the perimeter of the grounds," in or near early-years services, local authority playgrounds, bus and train stations and bus and train stops. The prohibition on advertising in certain places is contained in Section 13 of the Bill. Provisions relating to marketing and advertising will be reviewed after three years.

There will be restrictions on advertising during events. Pursuant to Section 14(1) of the Bill "During a sports event a person shall not advertise, or cause to be advertised, an alcohol product in or on a sports area." It shall be an offence to sponsor or cause the sponsorship of an event where the majority of competitors are children, or an event which is aimed at children or an event which involves driving or racing mechanically propelled vehicles.

Advertising, marketing and sponsorship restrictions will be subject to prosecutions under the criminal justice system for the first time. Prior to the Bill, restrictions on the marketing and advertising of alcohol have been largely subject to voluntary codes. Officers of companies can be held liable for an offence.

For the first time alcohol advertising and marketing will be regulated by legislation in Ireland and will be enacted in 2016.  

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.