Minimum Unit Pricing – Tackling Alcohol Misuse

Author:Mr Adam Hogg and Wendy Hederman
Profession:Mason Hayes & Curran
 
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The Public Health (Alcohol) 2015 (Bill) was presented in late 2015 to tackle Ireland's ongoing problem with over-consumption and misuse of alcohol. The measures proposed by the Bill seek to reduce the per capita alcohol consumption to the OECD average of 9.1 litres, some two litres below our current levels. The main reforms relate to:

minimum unit pricing (MUP) health labelling of alcohol products increased regulation of advertising, marketing of and sponsorship by alcohol products structural separation of alcohol products in mixed trading outlets The Bill also empowers the Minister for Health to make regulations on any of these matters.

Minimum unit pricing

Section 10 of the Bill states as follows:

the minimum price per gram of alcohol will be 10 cent the formula for calculating MUP is 10 cent multiplied by the quantity in grams of alcohol in a product, which equals the minimum price for that product A person who sells an alcohol product at a price that is below the minimum price set by this Bill; or advertises or promotes the sale of an alcohol product at a price that is below the minimum price for that product, will be guilty of an offence. Certain exemptions are expected including the sale of alcohol products at tax-free shops to travellers departing the State and distribution by wholesale or free of charge.

Following his introduction of the Bill, then Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar advised that the Government would continue to pursue this measure through the legislative process. He remained convinced that MUP had a very important role to play in addressing the major public health challenge. The current Minister for Health, Simon Harris, recently advised that “if we are serious about showing political leadership on alcohol, rather than political platitudes, we need to get on with delivering this legislation.”

Labelling

Under Section 11 of the Bill, labelling of alcohol products must include:

the amount of pure alcohol as measured in grams the calorie count health warnings regarding the effects of consuming alcohol details of a public health website to be set up by the HSE, which will give information on alcohol and related harms The proposed use of health warning labels on alcohol has been questioned by certain interest groups. They argue that there is no evidence to prove that this measure reduces the consumption of alcohol. They also state that health warning labels on packaged alcohol products must be proportionate...

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