07 Nov 2017 | 04.27 pm
Drinks Lobby Criticises Official ‘Fake News’
Alcohol Bill in the firing line
07 Nov 2017 | 04.27 pm
Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) has called for a balanced approach to the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, currently before the Seanad.
ABFI says the proposed advertising measures in the Bill are poorly targeted, not backed by evidence and will unfairly impact an indigenous industry that supports over 210,000 jobs.
The Alcohol Bill will make Ireland one of the most restrictive countries in the world for marketing alcohol products. It will ban images of people, animals, scenic shots of Ireland and scenes in pubs from appearing in alcohol advertisements.
ABFI director Patricia Callan (pictured) stated: “The Irish drinks industry supports jobs in every county in Ireland and has huge potential for future growth. Just look at Ireland’s whiskey renaissance. A few years ago, Ireland had only four operational whiskey distilleries. There are now 18 distilleries operating across Ireland, from Dublin’s Liberties to rural communities nationwide.
“The latest figures from the CSO on the value of Irish whiskey exports (ROI only) for the first seven month of 2017 indicate that the value of exports globally is up 19.9 per cent to €314m. The Irish beer industry is also thriving. Last year, Irish beer exports accounted for 20 per cent of Ireland’s total beverage exports.
“Currently, some of the loudest voices in this debate are indifferent to the consequences of this Bill for jobs and businesses across Ireland. Furthermore, the extreme and erratic rhetoric being used by the anti-alcohol lobby only serves to confirm the need for a balanced approach to the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.”
Callan added: “According to a report by economist Jim Power, commissioned by a number of Irish media companies, these advertising proposals will cost the Irish media industry €20m in lost advertising revenue per annum. It will simply shift this revenue away from domestic Irish media, towards international, non-Irish regulated media organisations that broadcast here and to digital media. This is much less regulated and is where young people access most of their media content.
“These proposals are being introduced despite the fact that Ireland already has some of the strictest rules for marketing alcohol products in the world. We would argue that a better way forward is for the existing rules to be placed on a statutory footing, with significant penalties for any breaches.”
ABFI has also accused the Department of Health for contributing to the “fake news” around the alcohol debate with the publication of Fact vs. Fiction about the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015, sent to all Senators by the department.
In the Fact vs. Fiction document, the department says it is a “myth” that alcohol consumption in Ireland is falling, when in fact Ireland’s alcohol consumption has been falling since it peaked in 2001. Ireland’s alcohol consumption fell from 14.440 litres per adult in 2001, to 11.240 litres per adult in 2016.
In the department’s Fact vs. Fiction note, it states that the estimated cost of €1,350 to €5,900 per store to implement structural separation requirements was provided by NOFFLA, the representative group for off-licences. Off-licences are exempt from the legislation and stand to gain a competitive advantage if the legislation in its current form is introduced.
The Responsible Retailers of Alcohol in Ireland group says that the cost of implementing the structural separation requirements would be approximately €20,000 per store and many multiples of this figure for larger stores. The RRAI cost estimates have been verified by independent practitioners in the field.