Friday 9 December 2016

Bottle of wine to cost minimum of €8.63 under new alcohol law

Louise Kelly and Eilish O'Regan

Published 09/12/2015 | 15:02

File pic
File pic

A bottle of wine will cost a minimum of €8.63 and a 500ml can of beer will be priced at no less than €1.95 under a new alcohol bill published by the Health Minister today.

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Leo Varadkar revealed the details of the Public Health Bill this afternoon after it was given the go-ahead by the Cabinet yesterday.

Minimum alcohol pricing has been established at 10c per gram of alcohol, according to the new bill, which Government say works out at €1 per unit of alcohol.

The minister said the plan is to have the legislation implemented by next summer, but that minimum pricing will come in at same time as in North.

However, Minister Varadkar said he wishes to get his new bill passed by one or other of the Dáil or Seanad before they're dissolved for elections.

"I'm not particularly concerned about the electoral impact," he said earlier today.

"The vast majority of people will see the enormous [health] benefits".

The new pricing structure includes:

*A 750ml bottle of win at 11.5pc strength is to cost €8.63

*A 700ml bottle of 40pc strength vodka will cost €28

*A litre bottle of cider at 4.3pc will cost €4.30

Mr Varadkar insisted he was not trying to “cancel Christmas.”

But the measures contained in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, aimed at tackling the nation’s ongoing levels of drink abuse, will mean an end to cheap booze.

He wants the law to be in place by the middle of next year, although it will be the task of the next government to push it through.

The proposed measures also include:

*Strict separation of alcohol products in shops, forcing owners to put it in cabinets in some cases,

• Compulsory health labelling on drinks requiring grams, calorie count, health warnings and a link to a public health website on alcohol containers

• Requirement to display health warnings and to provide access to information on grams and calories in pubs & off-licences

• Criminal sanctions of fines and jail for breaches of the law.

• Ban on advertising near schools, playgrounds & public transport

• 9pm broadcasting watershed for alcohol adverts

• Prohibition of price-based promotions and general restrictions on promotions

• An end to happy-hour if drinks are cut in price

He said : “Ireland needs to change its damaging attitude to alcohol. There’s a huge difference between having a drink on occasion with friends, and indulging in regular binge drinking. The costs are huge: from the damage to personal health and to society, absenteeism, the burden placed on the health services, public disorder and violence, traffic accidents, and the associated mental health consequences."

“The evidence about Ireland’s drinking habits is shocking. Four out of ten drinkers typically engage in binge drinking. This Bill addresses alcohol as a public health issue for the first time by tackling price, availability, marketing, advertising, and labelling. By taking this approach and confronting the problem in a wide range of ways, I am confident that we can make a huge difference to public health. We have talked about these measures for long enough. Now is the time to make it happen.”

The health  labels  will have to say:

• The amount of pure alcohol as measured in grams and the calorie count;

• Health warnings (including for pregnancy);

• A link to a public health website to be set up by the HSE, giving information on alcohol and related harms.

The wide-ranging Bill, which is aimed at curbing the country’s ongoing excessive abuse of alcohol, will make it an offence to advertise or market alcohol in a way which glamorises drink.

"This will not outlaw the Guinness Christmas ad," he added.

Pub scenes may be included in ads but the messages they convey of the ‘craic’ will be heavily scrutinised, particularly if young people who traditionally feature are seen to give the impression alcohol is enhancing their social skills.

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