TDs call for ban on sale of booze in supermarkets
A TOTAL ban on the sale of alcohol in supermarkets, convenience shops and petrol stations is among proposals to tackle the country's drinking problem.
Children are now starting to drink at an average age of 14 compared to 16 just a decade ago, and a Dail committee said a radical overhaul is needed to change how alcohol is perceived, sold and marketed.
The Joint Committee on Health and Children yesterday published 'The Misuse of Alcohol and Other Drugs' report, which noted binge and problem drinking is costing the State more than €3.5bn a year.
"We must change our culture and attitude toward alcohol," said committee chair and Cork South Central TD Jerry Buttimer.
An outright ban on the sale of alcohol in supermarkets, forecourts and grocery shops is needed to reduce the widespread availability of alcohol, he said.
The report follows hearings with more than two dozen stakeholders and includes 13 recommendations that will now be studied by Junior Health Minister Roisin Shortall.
Among them are calls for a ban on alcohol advertising before 9pm and on social networking sites as well as a ban on ads promoting special alcohol discounts.
The report also recommends a ban on the delivery of alcohol to homes from retailers and calls for minimum pricing for alcohol to prevent alcohol from being sold below cost.
Alcohol Action Ireland director Fiona Ryan said the charity welcomes the report, adding that it touched on the three areas driving alcohol misuse -- namely price, availability and marketing.
"The reality is that things have changed. Kids are drinking younger and they're able to buy a lot more alcohol with the money they have," she said.
"But it's pointless for us as adults lecturing to young people about the need to watch their alcohol use while 50pc of us are drinking at levels that are jeopardising our own health," she said.
The report, meanwhile, also noted the growing abuse of prescription drugs, particularly tranquillisers marketed under such brand names as Valium, Xanax and Librium.
The committee recommends that legislation be amended to put stricter controls on their prescription and importation.
It also recommends that the law is changed to make the importation of cannabis seeds illegal.
Other recommendations include providing funding under the medical card scheme for drug and alcohol rehabilitation programmes.