Minister For Health Seeks European Commission Approval To Regulate Alcohol Promotions

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Minister for Health, Simon Harris T.D., has notified the European Commission of his plans to regulate promotions that incentivise alcohol consumption.

The regulations, which are provided for under section 23 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act, will aim to prohibit:
• the awarding of loyalty card points or similar benefits on the purchase of an alcohol product and the use of loyalty card points or similar benefits to purchase an alcohol product;
• the sale of alcohol products at a reduced price or free of charge on the purchase of another product or service;
• short term (3 days or less) price promotions on alcohol products.

Minister Harris said: “Alcohol is not an ordinary grocery product. By restricting access to alcohol products through promotions or loyalty card programmes, the regulations align with the objectives of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018, which are to reduce alcohol consumption and reduce the harms caused by the misuse of alcohol.

“Alcohol is a drug and one which has real risks and harms associated with it and as such, should not be a subject of promotional activity.”

The Minister intends to provide for a one-year lead in time following the signing of the regulations.

Under the Technical Standards Directive process, EU Members States and the European Commission can assess the compatibility of the draft regulations with EU law and Internal Market principles during a three-month standstill period which begins on receipt of the draft law.

The Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 was enacted in October 2018 and the Minister commenced 23 of its 31 provisions in November 2018.

The draft regulations are designed to address price-based promotions so as to reduce harmful binge-drinking and to make alcohol products less affordable for young people.

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