The general availability of alcohol is an important indicator when assessing alcohol related harm. Studies have shown reducing the availability of alcohol is an effective measure to reduce alcohol harms. Alcohol is not an ordinary consumer product and this is recognised by the State through a licensing system and a specific excise tax. However, when it comes to mixed retail outlets, e.g. supermarkets and convenience stores, it is frequently displayed like a regular grocery item. The regulation of the way it is displayed for sale it is an important mechanism to highlight the harm it can cause and to protect children from overexposure.
Section 9 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 2008 provided for the structural separation of alcohol products but has not been commenced. The aim was to assist in tackling the increased availability, visibility and accessibility of alcohol products. Section 20 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill provides for restrictions on the display and advertisement of alcohol products in mixed trade retail outlets. Mixed trade retailers can only display and advertise alcohol products in:
- A separate area of the shop and/or behind the counter in a closed storage unit
- Closed storage units and/or behind the counter in a closed storage unit.
The range of options provided for in Section 20 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill address the reasonable need for flexible implementation of the requirements. The provisions in this Bill make it easier for mixed trading outlets to comply with the requirements than those previously set out in Section 9 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 as retailers have a number of options to achieve ‘structural separation’ and no longer require a point of sale in the ‘separated area’.