Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland responds to alcohol strategy

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Drinks sector calls on government to engage with industry on ways to address alcohol misuse in this country
    • Drinks sector welcomes the introduction of statutory codes, but highlights concerns about the introduction of restrictions on marketing and advertising given the lack of clear evidence that these measures will address underage drinking and binge drinking
    • Government's decision to discuss sports sponsorship further in light of the lack of clear evidence and the need to support our sporting organisations, welcomed by drinks companies
    • Concern highlighted that education initiatives are not a focus in new strategy
Alcohol Federation of Ireland (ABFI), the association which represents alcohol manufacturers and suppliers in Ireland, today responded to the Government Alcohol Strategy, by urging the government to engage with the drinks industry.

Kathryn D’Arcy, Director of Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland said: “The publication of the Alcohol Strategy marks an important day in our efforts, as a society, to address alcohol misuse, while recognising that the majority of people in Ireland drink alcohol responsibly.

“It is time for all of the government stakeholders to engage in a meaningful manner with the drinks sector. As we have long acknowledged, the drinks sector has a role in ensuring that issues such as underage drinking and drinking to excess are challenged. The sector wants to work with the various stakeholders in the development and introduction of evidence-based solutions that will address alcohol misuse, in particular amongst young people. Engaging with us will ensure that the government will deliver an effective set of proposals.”

Kathryn D’Arcy raised some concerns that the sector has with the strategy: “Consider the area of education, which are not prioritised in this strategy. Evidence shows that the principle influencers on youth drinking are parents and peers. The absence of education measures that could positively impact on a cultural acceptance of alcohol misuse from this Bill is a glaring omission.

“The industry is committed to responsible and appropriate marketing of our products and is already subject to some of the most stringent co-regulatory codes of practice on alcohol advertising and sponsorship anywhere in the world. With this in mind, we welcome the move towards statutory codes and we look forward to working with government on these codes.

“We also welcome the government's decision to discuss sports sponsorship further in light of the lack of clear evidence and the need to support our sporting organisations. However, this Bill contains an over-emphasis on marketing restrictions, without clear evidence that these proposals will address underage drinking and binge drinking. Such restrictions are anti-business and anti-jobs and will not deliver the government’s aim to reduce alcohol misuse.”

In relation to the proposals on labelling, the industry welcomed the government's decision to introduce advice and alcohol content labelling requirements on alcohol beverages, and highlighted that measure had been supported by industry since 2007, while urging government to take account of the on-going discussions at a EU level on a common EU approach to including calorific content on alcohol labels.

The industry noted also the government’s decision to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol and cautioned that it would be important to consider the legal aspects of such a move. They once again reiterated their support for the reintroduction of the ban on below cost selling as a more effective policy move.

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