Minimum Unit Pricing For Alcohol Products

Author:Mr Kevin Hoy, Nicola Byrne and Adam Hogg
Profession:Mason Hayes & Curran

Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol products may soon be a reality in Ireland. The new Bill proposes to introduce a floor price for alcohol products based on their alcoholic strength. It will also apply substantial fines and potential jail time for anyone who does not comply. This will have a significant impact on sales in off-licences and supermarkets.

The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 ("the Bill") was presented to the Dáil by the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, on 10 December 2015 to tackle overconsumption and misuse of alcohol.

The ambition of the Bill is to:

minimise the possibility and frequency of alcohol-related harm; delay the initiation of alcohol consumption by children and young people, reduce the harms caused by the misuse of alcohol; and reduce alcohol consumption to 9.1 litres of pure alcohol per person per annum by 2020 How will this be achieved?

It is hoped that the cumulative effect of a range of measures will result in the reduction in the misuse of alcohol.

The main proposed reforms are:

Minimum Unit Pricing ("MUP") Health labelling of alcohol products The regulation of advertising, marketing and sponsorship of alcohol; and Structural separation of alcohol products in mixed trading outlets The Bill also empowers the Minister for Health to make regulations in respect of any of these matters.

Consequences of not complying with this legislation, once enacted:

This Bill, if enacted in its current form, will have teeth. If a person is found guilty of an offence under the various sections, he or she will be liable to pay substantial fines and/or jail time under Section 7.

For example:

selling below the legal minimum price will result, on indictment, in a fine of up to €250,000 and/or up to 3 years in prison; sale of an alcohol product which does not comply with labelling requirements will result, on indictment, in a fine of up to €100,000 and/or up to 2 years in prison; or if the breach is continued after being convicted, the person shall be liable for a fine of €2,000 per day. Minimum Unit Pricing:

The headline reform of the Bill is 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 who...

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