Health campaigners have welcomed the passage of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill through all stages in the Seanad.

The new legislation includes measures like minimum pricing, health warnings on labels, and restrictions on how alcohol is displayed in shops.

The latest version of the bill is said to contain some concessions on the display restrictions, following concerns from small retailers.

Following its passage through the Seanad, the bill will return to the Dáil next year.

The Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) has criticized the bill, and claims compulsory cancer warnings on labelling will be “devastating” for Irish drinks companies.

However, the Minister for Health Simon Harris believes the legislation will improve lives, and hopes it will be passed by TDs and signed into law “as quickly as possible”.

He argued: “It’s the first time ever in the history of our state we’ve introduced public health legislation in relation to alcohol.

“I believe that the measures in this Bill will make a real and substantial difference, and will reduce alcohol consumption and the harms caused by alcohol in Ireland.”

He added: “As a country, we have already shown that public health legislation in the area of tobacco can work. Now let’s do the same for alcohol.”

Alcohol Action Ireland described the passage of the bill through the Seanad as a ‘significant milestone’ for the proposed legislation.

The group’s head of communications & advocacy, Eunan McKinney, observed: “What goes now to Dáil Éireann is the most progressive piece of public health legislation advanced by any government in recent times.

“The historical significance of this cannot be lost and it is incumbent on all Deputies in Dáil Éireann to now give this legislation a safe and speedy passage early in 2018, before we face another year of lost lives, and utterly avoidable harms.”

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