Regina Doherty TD has today criticised alcohol promotions especially in the lead up to this June Bank Holiday weekend. This statement follows revelations that a large supermarket chain are selling trays of 24 cans of beer for €24.
Doherty is hugely critical of this type of promotion on alcohol as she believes that the price at which you can buy this alcohol will lead to over consumption, health and mental problems, an increase in anti-social behaviour and directly increase drink related criminal activity. This blatant below cost selling and under-cutting of pricing is adversely affecting independent off-licences and the pub industry resulting in more people joining the dole queues.
Speaking today Regina says “It is not my intention to be a kill-joy in any way as I enjoy a social drink as much as the next gal but I wholeheartedly believe that as a country we have gone from being able to have a sociable drink at the weekends to this type of anti-social drinking. These types of promotions are encouraging and enabling people to buy in bulk for increased consumption at home.”
“I completely understand that in the harsh economic times we are facing people do not have the disposable income to go to the pub every weekend but I do believe that large chains of supermarkets are exploiting this for their own economic benefit and I myself find that abhorrent. I think any retailer selling alcohol (independent off-licence or large supermarket) has a duty to their customers to act in a responsible manner when it comes to the sale and promotion of alcohol and I believe that the cut-price promotions like the ones available this week are completely irresponsible. ”
I believe that the government owes it to the people of Ireland to introduce stricter policy to deal with the cut-price sale of alcohol.
“If the same bulk promotion applied to the sale of cigarettes in large supermarkets I guarantee the general public would be disgusted and up in arms. Why can’t we have the same ban on the promotion of alcohol? The health problems related to over consumption of alcohol are just as serious as those related to smoking and we are ignoring it.”
Another issue highlighted by Deputy Doherty are the licencing fees paid by those independent off-licences versus the larger multiples. Licencing fees for Joe Blogs in a small town are the same price as the licencing fees for those larger supermarkets. Doherty believes that this needs to be tackled by Government.
“The fact that larger supermarkets are paying the same price as the independent retailer is disgraceful. I propose that licencing fees should be based on the volume of sales and the revenue generated by this increase in fees should be ring-fenced and spent on those issues resulting from the over-consumption of alcohol. Mental health issues, domestic violence (towards both men and women) alcohol awareness & addiction programmes are all area in dire need of funding and I believe increased fees could assist in their efforts.
There is a litany of alcohol related diseases and we are spending hundreds of thousands of euro in medical care every year to deal with the effects of alcohol, and yet we still allow promotions like this. What sense does it make? It is like continuously pouring water into a bucket with a hole at the bottom-a futile exercise if we do not try and tackle the source of the issue!”
“I am serious about tackling this issue. Today I have made a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority under section 7.1, 7.7 and 7.8 of their guideline charter. As a government, we need to work to say goodbye to these type drink promotions for the good of our health, for the pub and independent off-licence industry. ”