booze laws New legislation on the sale of alcohol in supermarkets explained
New rules will be implemented today on the sale of alcohol in supermarkets, which will see products barriered off in a bid to combat Ireland’s booze culture.
The new law, introduced under Section 22 of the Public Health Alcohol Act, 2018, will see mixed sale shops being forced to barrier or enclose alcohol away from the rest of the store.
One of the major aims of the legislation is to reduce the attractiveness of alcohol to children and young people.
Eunan McKinney, head of communications and advocacy at lobby group Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI), said: “We’re delighted this day has finally arrived. These measures provide us all with a new opportunity to end the normalisation of alcohol throughout society.
“Alcohol is not an ordinary product and should never be seen as such.
“Bringing these measures into law has been a very long and at times, difficult challenge.
“The significance of placing alcohol controls on a statutory basis, ending a somewhat cavalier self-regulatory approach, is highly important.”
The campaign group collectively stated the measures are “a further significant step to addressing the relationship between alcohol and our children,” by reducing exposure to children during their daily lives.
All supermarkets must from today abide by the stringent measures when selling alcohol.
Stores can only sell booze under three scenarios. The first option is to erect a physical barrier, which is no less than 1.2m high, with no alcohol advertisements visible.
Alternatively, supermarkets can enclose adjacent storage units on the shop floor. Again, the alcohol must not be visible up to a minimum height of 1.5m.
And the third option is to utilise a maximum of three adjacent units - each of 1m wide and 2.2m high.
Mr McKinney said: “We look forward to the Government fulfilling its promise, outlined in the Programme for Government, to implement, in full, the Public Health Alcohol Act and honour their longstanding commitment to introducing minimum unit pricing.”
The new rules will be monitored by HSE Environmental Health officers.
The new regulations for mixed trade retailers do not apply to off-licences, airports or planes.
AAI welcomed the legislation and said it illustrated that the State had now “demonstrated a seriousness about reducing the demand for alcohol by separating it from other everyday grocery items in mixed outlets.”
The group added: “Purchasing alcohol is not the same as buying ordinary groceries.”
AAI is hosting a webinar today, titled ‘No Ordinary Product’ to mark the new rules coming into effect.
The online event will feature a presentation from Professor Niamh Shortt of the University of Edinburgh and a brief panel discussion with contributions from Dr Olivia Freeman of the College of Business at Technological University Dublin and Kathryn Reilly, policy manager at the Irish Heart Foundation.
The HSE noted that as well as “delaying the initiation of alcohol consumption in children," other reasons for the new legislation included “reducing alcohol consumption to 9.1 litres of pure alcohol per person per annum, reducing the harms caused by the misuse of alcohol and ensuring the supply and price of alcohol is regulated and controlled in order to minimise the possibility and incidence of alcohol related harm.”
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