Harris asks media to stop using alcohol industry-funded resources

Minister for Health says public should be directed to HSE for trusted information on alcohol

Minister for Health Simon Harris has written to media outlets asking them to stop using alcohol-industry funded resources such as Drinkaware.

Mr Harris says the media should consider using the HSE's askaboutalcohol.ie as an information resource for the public instead of using industry-funded sources.

According to Mr Harris, it is important people have the necessary information to support them to take the best possible decisions for their own and their families’ health.

“It is equally important, especially in an era where misinformation and disinformation are challenges for our society, that the public can access evidence-based information from sources they can trust, and where there is optimal clarity and transparency about both the information provided and the source providing.


“We are all aware of critical health issues where this is an ongoing challenge, for example in relation to vaccinations.”

Ireland is the fourth heaviest drinking nation in the OECD, with more than half of adult drinkers classified as harmful drinkers, Mr Harris says in his letter. Ireland also has the third highest levels of adolescent binge drinking, he said.

“The media, both traditional and social, is an important and influential source of information for the public. The media in Ireland has a track record, underpinned by principles of good journalism, of supporting the public by providing information, creating awareness and supporting greater knowledge and understanding to help empower people around their own health and wellbeing.

“In this context I hope that you will re-consider using alcohol-industry funded sources of information and use the HSE resources instead to support the public in making informed decisions.”

Drinkaware, which is funded by 24 companies in the alcohol and grocery retail sectors, says its vision is “an Ireland where alcohol is not misused”.

It has developed tools that, it says, helps people understand low-risk drinking guidelines and has also funded school alcohol awareness programmes.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.