Sunday 15 December 2019

'2,100 have died during two-year delay to booze law'

ABFI’s Patricia Callan. Photo: Gary O'Neill
ABFI’s Patricia Callan. Photo: Gary O'Neill
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Around 2,100 people have died from alcohol-related disease during the two-year delay in bringing forward the Government's proposed legislation aimed at tackling the country's booze culture, it has been claimed.

Alcohol Action Ireland also estimated that in that time 100,000 more children have taken up drinking.

"Every day three people will die from alcohol-related illnesses," the organisation's spokesman Eunan McKinney warned.

He was speaking as the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which was eventually passed by the Seanad late last year, comes before the Dáil today.

But it has already been watered-down. Major concessions have been made to retail outlets relating to the display of alcohol.

Although it proposes the introduction of minimum pricing - aimed at outlawing cheap booze - this is likely to take years because it will have to be aligned with the start of the same measure in the North.

The alcohol industry is stepping up its campaign with another round of lobbying aimed at securing changes to health labelling with cancer warnings.

Drinks manufacturers yesterday said they were "concerned about the proposed unintended negative consequences of the advertising and labelling measures".

Patricia Callan, director of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI), claimed it would "create an anti-business environment" and "won't achieve the public policy objective".

"We are looking for the Government to remove the cancer warning labels from the bill," she said.

"No other country in the world has mandatory cancer labels on alcohol products and we believe that such a measure applies a stigma to products produced in Ireland.

"It gives a clear advantage to our competitors abroad. A focus on one health issue alone does not give a full or accurate picture to help consumers make an informed choice about their drinking."

Irish Independent

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