Minimum alcohol prices set to be introduced under substance misuse strategy
on 23/10/2013 11:04:31
The plan is part of the National Substance Misuse Strategy by Government, and will be unveiled tomorrow. It will be developed in conjunction with policy in Northern Ireland to bring pricing in line on both sides of the border.
A working group will now consider the issue over the next 12 months.
Other proposals within the plan include the postponement on a ban on drinks companies sponsoring sporting events, as well as a ban drinks advertising on TV during the day and early evening.
The restrictions will be decided in consultation with the Department of Communications but concern has been expressed that any such ban may put Irish broadcasters at a disadvantage to foreign rivals.
An Oireachtas Committee opposed a ban on alcohol sponsorship at sporting events back in July, saying clubs and organisations would suffer inordinately.
Instead, the Transport and Communications Committee said some of the money should be ring-fenced for substance abuse programmes.
It said banning sponsorship by drinks companies should only be considered if it is done in other European countries so sporting organisations here are not at a disadvantage.
According to the Irish Times, the Junior Health Minister is still battling key Fine Gael ministers on that issue.
Conor Cullen from Alcohol Action Ireland is welcoming the move to give alcohol a basic price.
"We're delighted that the government is going to push ahead with introducing a minimum price for alcohol - which essentially is a floor price beneath which alcohol cannot be sold," he said.
"What this will do is it'll target the very cheapest and strongest alcohol products which are sold, primarily in our supermarkets."
Evelyn Jones, chairperson of the National Off Licence Association, said the introduction of a base price for alcohol has to be fair for consumers and vendors.
"You can argue that cheap alcohol helps the consumer - but they're paying for it in other ways when they go in the door of the supermarket," she said.
"So on conjunction with a minimum price, we would be looking for what's known as a ban on below-cost selling; in other words, no vendor of alcohol - including myself - should be able to sell alcohol for less than I bought it for."