Alcohol advertising curbs ‘may be against EU laws’

Article John Downing in Irish Independent, May 8 2018  

The European Commission has warned Health Minister Simon Harris that curbs on alcohol advertising appear to break EU laws. The commission has also challenged plans for a warning linking cancer and alcohol on drink bottles and cans, taking up a third of the space. The Brussels move has been welcomed by the Irish drinks industry but raises more questions about the controversial Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which Taoiseach Leo Varadkar published when he was health minister in 2015.

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Reaction Alcohol Action Ireland on their website:

Alcohol Action Ireland rejects ABFI’s assessment of the EU Commission’s Comments on the Public Health Alcohol Bill.

In response to the recent comments from the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI: 7th May), Alcohol Action Ireland have refuted the assertion that the EU Commission has stated that Ireland’s proposed measures, as outlined in the Public Health Alcohol Bill, ‘go beyond what is required to effectively tackle alcohol misuse’.

 In its ‘Comments’ to the Government of Ireland, the EU Commission makes clear its concerns are primarily regarding the possible impact on the export of alcoholic beverages to Ireland, but reasserts Ireland’s Member State capacity to justify actions, such as those proposed within the Bill, on grounds of protecting public health.

 The EU Commission does not, as ABFI suggest, ‘heavily’ criticise the Public Health objectives of the Bill but merely highlights some ‘concerns’, many of which have been raised in previous incidence of Member State action and seeks clarity on the application of regulation such as those outlined for labelling, advertising and broadcasting.

 Commenting on the specific concerns raised, Eunan McKinney, Alcohol Action Ireland said:

 “Like all good working partnerships, we have no doubt that the Government’s intentions to protect public health in Ireland can, and will, be explained to the Commission, and any remaining concerns alleviated through careful dialogue and explanation.

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