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Ireland restricts alcohol advertising with new law

Ireland’s minister for health Simon Harris has signed a “groundbreaking” law to ban alcohol advertising near schools and play areas and restrict visibility of alcohol in stores over the next two years.

The new law states that alcohol products can be contained, but not be visible in a unit behind the counter

Harris has signed orders to commence 23 sections of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which seeks to cut down on alcohol consumption in Ireland.

The legislation, which will come into effect from 12 November 2019, will prohibit adverts for alcohol 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.

It will also ban alcohol advertising in a cinema except around films with an 18 classification or in a licensed premises in a cinema. Children’s clothing that promotes alcohol will also be prohibited.

A section of the bill in relation to the visibility of alcohol in stores will come into effect the following year on 12 November 2020. The law states that mixed retailers must confine alcohol products and advertising to a separate area with a 1.2 metre-high barrier. In addition, alcohol products can be contained but not visible behind the counter.

There will also be a further ban, effective from 12 November 2021, which will see alcohol advertising banned in a sports area during a sporting event, at events aimed at children or at events in which the majority of participants or competitors are children.

Alcohol sponsorship of events aimed at children, events which the majority of participants or competitors are children and events involving driving or racing motor vehicles will also be prohibited.

“This is the first time in the history of our state that we have endeavoured to use public health legislation to address issues in respect of alcohol,” said Harris. “It is, therefore, a groundbreaking measure.

“For the very first time in our history, we are legislating for alcohol as it affects our health and it is right and proper that we do so.

“We know that we have a relationship with alcohol in this country that is not good, damages our health, harms our communities and harms many families.

“The measures in this bill will make a real difference to changing the culture of drinking in Ireland over a period of time.”

In September this year, drinks producers across Ireland welcomed proposed amendments to the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill that would see distillery and brewery visitor centres made exempt from strict new advertising regulations.

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