Alcohol Action Ireland, July 2023

In recent years, the marketing of what are called no- and low-alcohol beverages (NoLos), has been expanding, even though they are a small share of the alcohol market. The alcohol industry portrays these drinks as a solution for alcohol use or a harm reduction strategy for heavy alcohol users, but currently, as highlighted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) there is little evidence for this. AAI has in recent years been highlighting the marketing of zero alcohol products, in particular how they are used to circumvent advertising restrictions under Ireland’s Public Health Alcohol Act (PHAA).

Not only is the marketing of these products being used as a trojan horse to get around laws designed to protect children and other vulnerable groups, according to the WHO, they further normalise a culture of alcohol consumption and blur potential conflict of interest in developing public health policies. In a briefing published in April 2023 the WHO said there is a “need to monitor NoLos consumption and impact on alcohol consumption to understand the public health implications of them.” The WHO also categorically stated that NoLo marketing needs to be regulated to protect children, pregnant women and those seeking to stop drinking.

AAI has been recommending for some time that the Department of Health examines how the marketing of these products is contravening the letter – and the spirit of the PHAA. This issue is of increasing concern to academics, politicians, parents and those interested in protecting children from predatory marketing – and indeed the global health community, as demonstrated by the WHO briefing, published in April 2023.

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