Saturday 18 November 2017

Health Minister: ‘Go to the pub if you want a drink’

Eilish O'Regan, Health Correpsondent

Health Minister James Reilly wants people to return to the going to the pub if they want a drink rather than imbibing at home.

He said the price of  alcohol in pubs should come down while the prices in off licences should go up in order to encourage more sensible drinking.

Alcohol is far too available in off licences and supermarkets while pubs should bring down their prices, he added.

The Minister repeated his support for an end to the sponsorship of sports’ events by drinks companies saying this exposed young people to potentially harmful advertising.

“I stand very firmly in the belief that we should  separate the sponsorship of sports from alcohol,” he said.

The same arguments were put forward when restrictions on smoking were introduced and although he was not comparing the two he insisted warnings of” the sky falling in” did not materialise.

“Nature abhors a vacuum. I have no doubt that as alcohol moves out, other sponsors will move in,” he added.

“Sport is critically important to the development of young people. Being brought to sporting events by families should be encouraged but they should not be exposed to alcohol advertising at those venues.

“We have evidence to show that the earlier you start drinking the bigger problem you can have with it.”

Asked to comment on reported comments by Diageo which owns Guinness that a ban on drink sponsorship might force the company to reduce spending in future he said he “takes on board what they have to say.”

He conceded that the “alcohol industry is a very important industry in this country.”

He pointed to comments by liver specialists that they are now seeing cirrhosis in people in their twenties – evidence that they started drinking young and have been drinking heavily.

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