The drinks industry claims new alcohol labelling laws will make Ireland a ‘global pariah’

Health Minister Simon Harris is expected to retain cancer warning labels in the new alcohol bill.

By Sarah Harford

THE DRINKS INDUSTRY has claimed that the government’s decision to force manufacturers to include cancer warning labels on products will make Ireland a “global pariah”.

Last week, there were reports that mandatory labels linking alcohol to increased risks of cancer would be scrapped from the controversial Public Health (Alcohol) Bill when it returns to the Dáil this evening.

However, it is now understood that Health Minister Simon Harris will retain the labelling provisions despite opposition.

In response, the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) said that keeping the “draconian” labelling requirements will “severely damage the reputation” of Ireland’s drinks brands and negatively affect trade.

The measure would require all alcoholic beverages sold in the Republic of Ireland to include evidence-based health warnings covering at least one-third of all printed materials.

Patricia Callan, director of the ABFI, said that the industry supports the bill but the “sweeping and heavy-handed ‘alcohol causes cancer’ statement makes little sense”.

“This will impact jobs, investment and innovation, creating a barrier to trade both into and out of Ireland,” she added.

However, the news was welcomed today by the Irish Cancer Society, which said the proposal “positions Ireland as a global leader in public health”.

Alcohol bill

The Bill, which was first introduced to the Oireachtas in 2015, is currently making its way through the Dáil after being passed by the Seanad last year.

The bill has four main provisions: introducing a structural separation of alcohol from other products in stores, minimum unit pricing, health warning labels on alcohol products and advertising restrictions.

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It has been backed by a number of advocates who believe it will help reduce alcohol consumption and related harms in Ireland.

However, parts of the bill have faced strong opposition from the drinks industry, which has complained about restrictive advertising rules as well as the labelling requirements.

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