Friday 22 November 2019

Alcohol Bill passes through all stages of Oireachtas following introduction three years ago

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Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill has passed through all stages of the Oireachtas, almost three years after it was first introduced in December 2015.

The Bill, which is the first piece of legislation to address alcohol as a public health matter, will now be sent to the President for signature.

Health Minister Simon Harris praised the landmark legislation, calling it an end to "the most intense lobbying" by those in the alcohol business and campaigners.

"This legislation has been debated for over 1,000 days. It has been the subject of the most intense lobbying by the alcohol industry," he said.

"But today it completes its passage through the Oireachtas and becomes the first time Ireland legislates for alcohol as it affects our health and it is right and proper that we do so."

Mr Harris added that he hopes the Bill will contribute towards changing the culture of "an unhealthy relationship" with alcohol and Irish people in the future.

"We know that we have a relationship with alcohol in this country that is not good, damages our health, harms our communities and harms many families.

"The measures in this Bill will make a real difference to changing the culture of drinking in Ireland over a period of time.

"Ireland has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol that damages health and harms many families. The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will aim to address that and save thousands of lives."

The Bill outlines minimum unit pricing and will regulate health labelling on alcohol products.

It will also regulate certain aspects of the advertising and marketing of alcohol and suggest reduced visibility of alcohol products in mixed trading outlets.

Senator Catherine Noone said she was "very proud" that the Bill had finally passed through.

"A special day - 1000 days since The Public Health Alcohol Bill initiated in the last Seanad - I am very proud that it has passed all stages in the Houses of the Oireachtas & will now go to the President to be signed into law," she said on Twitter.

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