Broad welcome for minimum pricing for alcohol but regret at U-turn on sports sponsorship

Irish Medical Organisation says minimum pricing ‘a critical step’ to tackling alcohol abuse

Irish Medical Organisation president Dr Matthew Sadlier said: “We believe that the decision not to ban alcohol sponsorship in sport is a missed opportunity.”

Irish Medical Organisation president Dr Matthew Sadlier said: “We believe that the decision not to ban alcohol sponsorship in sport is a missed opportunity.”

Fri, Oct 25, 2013, 01:02

Correspondent


There has been a broad welcome for the Government’s measures aimed at tackling alcohol abuse, although health campaigners criticised the failure to include a prohibition on alcohol companies sponsoring sporting events, while the drinks industry itself questioned the legality of minimum pricing.

While welcoming certain aspects of the report, the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland said the proposals included an “overemphasis on marketing restrictions” and claimed there was no “clear evidence that these proposals will address underage drinking and binge drinking”.

The industry group suggested that restrictions on store displays of alcohol were “anti-business and anti-jobs” and claimed that it would not reduce alcohol misuse. It noted the decision to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol but “cautioned that it would be important to consider the legal aspects of such a move” and said the reintroduction of the ban on below-cost selling would have been a more effective policy move.


‘Scourge of alcohol misuse’
The Irish Medical Organisation welcomed minimum pricing as “a critical step to tackling the scourge of alcohol misuse and abuse in Ireland”. The organisation’s president Dr Matthew Sadlier said alcohol had “simply become too affordable particularly for young people and this measure will help address that”.

However he criticised the U-turn on a ban on alcohol sponsorship of sport. “We believe that the decision not to ban alcohol sponsorship in sport is a missed opportunity,” Dr Sadlier said.

He said alcohol was associated with more than 60 acute and chronic health disorders ranging from accidents and assaults to mental health problems, cardiovascular disease, liver cirrhosis and certain cancers and said that Irish people ranked among the highest consumers of alcohol in Europe.

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland also welcomed the measures and said they “indicated a clear commitment from the Government to protect and prioritise public health by addressing the issue of alcohol misuse, which is responsible for multiple health harms in our society”.

The National Youth Council of Ireland called for a “swift and rapid implementation” of the proposals.