Sir, – I have sympathy for your letter writer about the “0 per cent loophole” regarding alcohol marketing (Letters, March 29th).
The Public Health (Alcohol) Act bans alcohol advertising on the sporting area as well as on public transport and in areas close to schools, playgrounds and public parks. The alcohol industry has responded to these very modest restrictions with a proliferation of zero alcohol product advertising in these very areas using identical branding to that of the parent brand.
The definition of advertisement used in the legislation is “any form of commercial communication intended to promote an alcohol product, whether directly or indirectly, including trademarks, emblems, marketing images and logos making reference to the product”.
Alcohol Action Ireland contends that this definition is broad enough to cover such advertising. This could be tested in legal proceedings or more straightforwardly an amendment could be brought in immediately to close any such loophole. It is up to the Minister for Health to defend the Government’s own policy of reducing the level of alcohol marketing which drives the staggering level of alcohol harm experienced in Ireland. – Yours, etc,
Dr SHEILA GILHEANY,
Alcohol Action Ireland,
Sir, – Despite the introduction of legislation to prohibit alcohol advertising in sporting venues in 2021, new research reports that alcohol branding continued to appear as often as every eight seconds during the 2021/2022 European Rugby Champions Cup and the 2022 Six Nations Championships.
Zero alcohol drinks are plastered all over venues that are no longer permitted for alcohol advertising – buses, billboards, public transport, and on TV. Do people see the 0.0 or do they see the brand? What do you think?
This continues despite evidence that alcohol readily crosses the placenta while a safe dose of alcohol during pregnancy has not been established. Yet the prevalence of alcohol consumption during pregnancy in Ireland is the highest in the world at a staggering 60 per cent.
Alcohol is the leading cause of birth defects and developmental delay with profound social and economic effects that are often missed and receive scarce public recognition.
Ireland has the third-highest rate of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder in the world, with one in 10 babies (around 6,000) born in Ireland every year with some form of foetal alcohol disorder and an estimated 600 having the most severe effects on their brains.
Further research reports that a third (37 per cent) of Irish 15- to 24-year-olds who drink alcohol have an alcohol use disorder.
All of this remains largely invisible to citizens as the alcohol industry ploughs inexorably on, leaving a trail of damage and destroyed lives. – Yours, etc,
Dr CATHERINE CONLON,