Uncertainty continues in the Irish advertising industry concerning the enactment of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, 2015 almost 1,000 days after the publication of the initial Bill. The Bill passed through the Seanad (the Irish Senate) in December 2017 and is presently before the Dáil (the main Irish parliament and legislative body). As we have advised in previous updates the Bill legislates for the first time the advertising of alcohol in Ireland. There are four main areas within the Bill:
- Mandatory health labelling on all alcohol products
- Regulation of advertising, marketing and sponsorship of alcohol products and alcoholic brands
- Minimum unit pricing on alcoholic drink products
- Structural separation in retail premises between alcohol products and other products.
The issue of regulation of advertising and mandatory health labelling have proven the most controversial. The Irish Minister for Health has today (26th September 2018) confirmed that the legislation will include a requirement for a health warning label on all alcoholic drink products regarding the link between alcohol and cancer. Labels will also have to contain information such as calorie content and alcohol content. The cancer warning on labels has been particularly controversial as it is claimed that this is unique to Ireland and is not a requirement in any other country around the world.
A part of the Bill which restricts advertising for distilleries has also been the subject of recent controversy. The restrictions on advertising are extended to distilleries with the result that many small, local brewing companies or distilleries have been left in a position that they cannot erect signs directing people to their premises as such signage would constitute alcohol advertising and given the restrictions on the location of alcohol advertising contained in the bill (for example near schools or public transport stops) it can make it very difficult for distilleries in certain areas to advertise their location.
The exact content of the Bill is due to be finalised in the coming weeks and the legislation should then be passed into Irish law. We will provide a full update when it is enacted.
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