Drinks industry hits out at “anti-business” Alcohol Bill

ABFI has welcomed new EU regulations on labelling alcohol products, but criticised Ireland's measures once again
ABFI has welcomed new EU regulations on labelling alcohol products, but criticised Ireland's measures once again

Members of Ireland's alcohol industry have hit out once again at the Alcohol Bill, calling it "anti-business", and suggesting the government's proposed labelling system will cause havoc with growth, imports and investment.

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6 February 2018 | 0

The Alcoholic Beverage Federation has taken aim once again at the controversial Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, stating that, if passed, Ireland will become “one of the most restrictive countries in the world” for marketing alcohol products.

While the retailers scored a victory late last year when the government agreed to meet them half way on the structural separation issue, now it’s the turn of manufacturers and distributors of alcohol products to have their turn, but according to the Taoiseach and health minister, the time for lobbying has all but passed.

The bill, which is being debated once again in the Dáil today (Tuesday), has been called disproportionate and ineffective by the ABFI, in reference to its stipulation that all alcohol products be endowed with prominent cancer warning labels.

Measures like this would have unintended damaging consequences on the industry’s growth potential and imports, the Association says. It will create an anti-business environment that will “deter innovation growth and investment, and won’t achieve the public policy objective.”

“While we fully support measures to target alcohol misuse and underage drinking, it is critically important that measures are targeted and based on evidence,” says Patricia Callan, ABFI director. “This is not the case at the moment.

“We are looking for the Government to remove the cancer warning labels from the Bill,” Callan continues. “No other country in the world has mandatory cancer labels on alcohol products and we believe that such a measure applies a stigma to products produced in Ireland. It gives a clear advantage to our competitors abroad, who are not required to carry such labels.”

Callan sasy that the ABFI and wider drinks industry is committed to promoting moderate drinking and encouraging responsible choices about alcohol. However, “a focus on one health issue alone” does not help consumers make informed choices about their drinking.

“A specific Irish-only label would also result in significant additional costs and logistical difficulties for businesses operating here,” Callan adds. “This means that products might be withdrawn from the Irish market, or new products might not be introduced.”

In addition, the industry has stated that, during the process of drafting the Bill, health minister Simon Harris has not engaged with or even met with drinks manufacturers about the legislation.

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