Drinks promotions restricted by new legislation

Legislation introduced by the Irish government will limit promotions allowed in-store.

Two for one promotions aimed at students and others will be restricted under the legislation, while display options will also be curbed.

The amendment proposes small shops be allowed to keep alcohol products in view, but insists they be confined to a maximum of two storage units. Larger retailers will be required to segregate alcohol to a separate area in the shop and keep it in a closed storage unit. The product must not be visible to shoppers, and must remain closed when not in use.

The proposals are contained in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which is to be debated in the Seanad this month.

Health minister Simon Harris says the legislation marks an important shift in the marketing of alcohol: “As a country, we have already shown that public health legislation in the area of tobacco can work, now let’s do the same for alcohol. Legitimate business concerns in relation to small shops, which have been raised by Senators, I will seek to address through an amendment.”

The legislations was drafted last year, but was stalled in the Oirechtas by Fine Gael TDs. Ministers expressed concerns the bill would have a negative impact on small shop owners, saying  the requirement to segregate alcohol would place unnecessary costs on retailers.

However the amended bill will see small shops largely escape new requirements. Retailers whose shop fronts are less than 2sq m in size are to be made exempt from most rules. Mr Harris expressed his commitment to “mitigate against the burden for small shops.”

The legislation will also see the introduction of health warnings on all alcohol products.