Research evidence consistently shows that exposure to alcohol advertising is associated with an increased likelihood that children will start to drink alcohol or will drink greater quantities if they already do. This is why our Public Health (Alcohol) Act contains strong measures to limit the exposure of our children to alcohol marketing.
In November 2019, sections 14, 17 and 20 of the Act came into effect. Section 14 prohibits alcohol advertising in or on public service vehicles, at public transport stops or stations and within 200 metres of a school, a crèche or a local authority playground will be prohibited. Section 17 prohibits the sale of children’s clothing that promotes alcohol and section 20 prohibits alcohol advertising in a cinema except around films with an 18 classification or in a licensed premises in a cinema.
In November 2020, section 22 of the Act came into effect. It provides that, in mixed retail outlets, alcohol products and advertising are confined to one of the following:
- an area separated by a 1.2 metre high barrier, or
- units in which alcohol products are not visible up to 1.5 metres height, or
- up to three units that can be a maximum of 1 metre wide by 2.2 metres high.
In addition alcohol products can be contained but not be visible in a unit behind the counter.
Section 15 and 16 of the Act came into force on 12 November of this year. These provisions restrict alcohol advertising and sponsorship promoting alcohol products, and include a ban on alcohol advertising and sponsorship at events aimed particularly at children or at which the majority of participants or competitors are children. These measures will help to ensure that children can grow up in circumstances where they are not regularly exposed to alcohol products and alcohol advertising.
Section 13 of the Act relates to the content of advertisements for alcohol products. This section cannot be commenced until regulations under this section have been made. Draft regulations under Section 13 are currently being developed by my Department; upon finalisation, they must be submitted to the European Commission for assessment as to whether they are in alignment with Single Market principles.
Section 19 of the Act provides for a broadcast watershed for alcohol advertisements on television and radio. It has not yet been commenced as it requires further engagement on compliance and enforcement issues with the Environmental Health Service of the HSE and the Broadcast Authority of Ireland.
Work on commencement of these remaining sections of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act was suspended throughout 2020 and much of 2021 due to resources being diverted to COVID-19 related areas; that work has now restarted. The full implementation of the Act remains a priority.