Friday 27 April 2018

Drinks firms face draconian curbs on advertising of alcohol on TV

In a bid to ‘de-glamorise’ drinking, the legislation is expected to state that the ads can feature only the alcoholic product
In a bid to ‘de-glamorise’ drinking, the legislation is expected to state that the ads can feature only the alcoholic product
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The drinks industry is facing a dramatic crackdown on advertising that would ban traditional scenes of pub 'craic' and force companies to use just images of the product itself.

It could mean the end of "Sally O' Brien and the way she might look at you" style ads to market popular drinks.

The restrictions are expected to be outlined in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill due to be published before Christmas by Health Minister Leo Varadkar.

In a bid to 'de-glamorise' drinking, the legislation is expected to state that the ads can feature only the alcoholic product, the Irish Independent has learned.

The ads must be entirely objective when describing the drink's taste. They can say where it is brewed and the name of the company which makes it.

The far-reaching legislation, which is due to come before Cabinet before the recess, has been circulated to government departments, including those dealing with tourism and sport, which can make submissions.

Sources describe the proposed new law as like an advertising strait-jacket for broadcasting media.

If the restrictions get through and are taken to the letter, it could also mean an end to the annual Guinness ad with its famous "home of the black stuff" sign-off.

A spokeswoman for Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Paschal Donohue has absented himself from consideration of the legislation because his wife previously worked with Diageo. The spokeswoman said the matter had been referred to junior minister Michael Ring instead.

The wide-ranging legislation, which will face massive opposition from the powerful drinks lobby, will fall to the next government to bring through the Oireachtas.

The radical elements of the bill are aimed at tackling our drinking culture and the high levels of alcohol abuse. Stark statistics show 88 people die in Ireland every month due to alcohol.

And there are twice as many deaths from alcohol as due to all other drugs.

However, the controversial elements are expected also to face opposition from tourism and sports bodies.

Political tensions are also likely with ministers who have responsibility for these areas,

The Irish Independent previously revealed that on-pitch advertising, which generates valuable income for rugby and soccer, is also to be banned under the proposals.

These ads are computer-generated or spray-painted on the pitch.

The bill will also include a plan to put new controls on advertising of alcohol on social media.

The overall aim is put controls on advertising to stop drinking being seen as "cool".

Other measures in the bill include:

  • A 9pm watershed for television and radio advertising of alcohol.
  • The introduction of minimum pricing, which will mean a bottle of wine cannot be sold for less than around €8 and a can of beer for under €2.
  • Health warnings on bottles and cans noting the amount of pure alcohol and calories.

Irish Independent

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