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Irish alcohol bill delayed until autumn

Legislation to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol and regulate advertising in Ireland has been delayed until autumn, according to the Department of Health.

A statement from the Department of Health reported that drafting would continue over the summer

The Minister for Health Leo Varadkar pledged to publish the Public Health Alcohol Bill before the Dáil adjourned for summer recess.

Last Thursday, a statement from the Department of Health reported that “due to the breadth and complexity of the measures, drafting continues over the summer”.

The bill is expected to be ready in autumn when it will be “initiated in the Houses of the Oireachtas”.

As well as minimum unit pricing, the new legislation will include health labelling on alcohol products, restrictions on advertising and certain promotional activities, set regulations on sports sponsorship and sponsorship aimed at young people, and a broadcast watershed.

Liver specialist and president of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Professor Frank Murray, told the Irish Times: “This is a David and Goliath battle involving the huge financial resources of the alcohol industry which is protecting its profits.

“We know that three people die every week in Ireland as a result of alcohol use, which is more than are killed on our roads and that 1,500 hospital beds are occupied as a result of alcohol every night. As a society we are paying a very high price for alcohol.

“Every day the bill is delayed means that the harm being caused to men, women and children as a result of unsafe use of alcohol continues”.
Earlier this month, figures compiled by European statistics provider Eurostat revealed that people in Ireland pay 70% more than the European average for a drink.

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