On-pitch alcohol advertising to be banned under new law

Broadcast watershed, minimum pricing and warnings labels also proposed


On-pitch advertising for alcohol brands is to be banned as part of the Government’s upcoming Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, it was confirmed on Saturday.

It will prove the first concrete move taken by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar in a bid to reduce the profile of alcohol brands in major sporting events, and the bill is expected to make its way to Cabinet shortly following a series of delays.

The issue of alcohol advertising in sport has been a contentious one, with repeated suggestions from campaign groups that such a ban should be enacted in line with other European countries such as France and Norway.

Some will be unhappy that the proposed prohibition will not extend to pitchside or shirt advertisements, and will only apply to logos which are emblazoned on sports fields for televised matches.

That element of the bill will be introduced as part of a suite of measures that will see a broadcast watershed for television and radio advertising of alcohol products, labels warning of the adverse health effects of problem drinking on cans and bottles, and the long-expected imposition of minimum pricing for alcoholic beverages.

Speaking earlier this year, the minister was insistent that there was “no evidence” that a ban on sports sponsorship by drinks companies would help tackle excessive drinking among young people.

It is not known what prompted the policy shift prior to the bill’s publication later this year.

The Government has already engaged in an extended period of consultations with relevant stakeholders in the drinks industry, clinicians and groups who are calling for tougher measures to be introduced to combat binge-drinking and alcoholism.

Treatment for alcohol-related illnesses costs the State billions of euro according to latest statistics from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, and alcohol is directly attributable for the deaths of over 1,000 people in Ireland every year.