Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Irresponsible alcohol advertising proves self-regulation isn’t working

Fine Gael Meath East TD, Regina Doherty, has said that some leading supermarkets are cashing in on the Six Nations by running irresponsible advertising encouraging customers to buy large volumes of cheap alcohol for the rugby tournament.

“I was annoyed, but not surprised, to see full page ads running in weekend newspapers advertising the sale of cheap alcohol to coincide with the Six Nations. Not only did one ad for a major supermarket encourage the public to buy 24 cans of beer for €24, it also urged customers to start drinking in time for the rugby kick-off time at 3pm.

“This sort of irresponsible advertising proves yet again that self-regulation on the sale of alcohol is not working. It’s my view that major supermarkets and other discount stores are failing to take account of the impact of their actions when they peddle cheap alcohol as a means of getting people through their doors.

“This is made all the more clear when a national sporting event, which should be an occasion of pride, is used as an opportunity to push the sale of cheap alcohol. This just further encourages a culture of binge drinking.

“The damage that alcohol inflicts on society cannot be underestimated. According to the Department of Health, the cost to Irish society of alcohol related problems is currently in excess of €3.5 billion a year. It’s estimated that alcohol plays a role in more than 50% of all suicides here. Tackling this problem is one of the biggest challenges facing us today, from a health, societal and economic point of view.

“Introducing sensible and fair regulations on the sale of alcohol will be a major step forward. Minister of State at the Department of Health, Roisin Shorthall, is drafting legislation that will directly address the issue. I am hopeful that it will include a ban on below cost selling, restrictions on advertising multi-pack offers and restrictions on price point advertising. Forcing supermarkets and other stores to have a separate entrance point for their off-licence sales would also be a progressive move.

“Self-regulation on the sale of alcohol is failing us. I look forward to the publication of the new legislation, which should help us get a handle on this problem in a meaningful and constructive way.”

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