Thursday 20 June 2019

Alcohol advertising curbs 'may be against EU laws'

Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Steve Humphreys
John Downing

John Downing

The European Commission has warned Health Minister Simon Harris that curbs on alcohol advertising appear to break EU laws.

The commission has also challenged plans for a warning linking cancer and alcohol on drink bottles and cans, taking up a third of the space.

The Brussels move has been welcomed by the Irish drinks industry but raises more questions about the controversial Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which Taoiseach Leo Varadkar published when he was health minister in 2015.

The draft law is currently before the Dáil, having taken two years to make its way through the Seanad.

This and other EU interventions, from the Italian and Portuguese governments, mean it is likely to be put back until at least next autumn.

The commission has pointed out that publications which currently circulate throughout the EU, including Ireland, would have to print special Irish editions to comply with the planned alcohol ban contained in the current draft law. This breaches the EU single market laws. Similarly, wines and other drinks would need special labels for the Irish market only.

It also questions restricting television advertising of alcohol to between 9pm and 3am. They note that broadcasters serving Ireland from outside this jurisdiction are to be regulated by their "home country rules".

The EU says it supports Irish efforts to curb alcohol abuse.

Irish Independent

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