From The Examiner May 22nd:

A ban on alcohol adverts on TV before a 9pm watershed could take effect before the end of next year, the Department of Health has said.

Regulations for strict limits on what can and cannot be featured in alcohol advertisements are also currently being developed by the office of the Attorney General. These limits, however, could take some time as they must be submitted to Europe for assessment and come with a three-year lead-in time.

This comes after the Government announced the enactment of another piece of its lengthy alcohol legislation — warning labels on alcohol products — on Monday.

While the Public Health Alcohol Act was passed and signed into law in 2018, the actual provisions in it have been introduced on a phased basis since then.

This has included separating alcohol from other products in shops and supermarkets and minimum unit pricing on alcohol.

The latest measure enacted will see comprehensive health labelling of alcohol products sold in Ireland. It has a lead-in time of three years to give businesses “significant time to prepare for the change”, the Department of Health said.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said that packaging of other food and drink products already contain health information and warnings, where appropriate.

This law is bringing alcohol products into line with that,” he said.

While welcomed in some quarters, including the HSE and advocates such as the Irish Liver Foundation, it was heavily criticised by Drinks Ireland, which claimed the move was a “solo run” by the Government when the EU was planning a harmonised approach to health labels.

It said that opposition from Ireland’s trading partners will cause reputational, logistical, and financial harm to the sector here.

Drinks Ireland director Cormac Healy said: “Unfortunately, this is an example of zealotry rather than evidence-based legislation.”

As of yet, there are still other sections of the alcohol bill that are yet to be enacted.

Alcohol advertising

This includes strict advertising rules on TV and radio that would change both the time that adverts for beers, wines, and spirits could be shown, and their content

Under the provisions of the law, it would bring an advertising watershed for alcohol on television from 3am and 9pm. It would mean no alcohol ads could be shown during the day.

Advertisements would only be able to feature very specific features of the product, such as references to the product itself, where it is from, how it is produced, and “an objective description of [its] flavour, colour, and smell”.

Adverts should also contain warnings on the “danger of alcohol consumption” and the “direct link between alcohol and fatal cancers”, according to the legislation.

Reacting to the introduction of the health warnings on alcohol labels, Alcohol Action Ireland CEO Dr Sheila Gilheany said this measure on its own would be not be sufficient to “fully address the harm being experienced on a daily basis in Ireland”.

“Other important elements of the Alcohol Act still need to be commenced, such as the broadcast watershed for alcohol advertising and restrictions on the content of alcohol advertisements,” she said.

A Department of Health spokesperson said that consultation is ongoing regarding the broadcast watershed, but it is the intention of the minister for health that this be commenced this year.

There is a one-year lead-in time for this measure, so it could be in place before the end of 2024.