Representatives from the drinks industry have addressed the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children as part of the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.
Evelyn Jones of the National Off-License Association (NOffLA) expressed her group’s view that minimum unit pricing is not enough, and that they would like to see a ban on alcohol being priced below invoice costs, as there are many drinks that can be heavily promoted without falling below the minimum unit price.
“Minimum unit pricing deals with one socio-economic profile and age group, and the legislation is an opportunity to introduce a ban on below-invoice cost selling which will work in tandem with minimum unit pricing to ensure alcohol is sold responsible across all social strata and ages,” she explained.
NOffLA also supports laws to keep alcohol separate from other consumer goods and unavailable at self-service tills, with Jones stating that, “Alcohol is a controlled substance, its purchase should be concious and supervised.”
The group is however, concerned that the enforcement of structural separation proposed is not strong enough, and calls for convictions and fines of up to a €1000 for breaches of the guidelines.
Jones was also adamant that alcoholic products should not be indirectly marketed by being included in offers or supermarket loyalty schemes.
Padraig Cribben of the Vintner’s Federation of Ireland, which represents publicans outside of Dublin, gave his group’s support for the bill but called for its details to be considered carefully.
The federation supports nutritional information being displayed on drinks, but says it is imperative that a standard format be decided on for displaying the same information in pubs and restaurants.
“We need to avoid the situation where differing administrative officers have different impressions of what is required,” he explained, adding that the decision be made with the department of health in advance, to ensure ease of compliance both business owners and transparency for consumers.
Both the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland and the Licensed Vinters Association (LVA), which represents Dublin publicans, support minimum unit pricing. LVA chief executive Donal O’Keeffe said, however, that the price would have to be high enough to impact consumption patterns.
© 2015 - Checkout Magazine by Jenny Whelan.