Press Release

Minister Gallagher announces strengthened measures to control alcohol advertising

Mr Pat the Cope Gallagher T.D., Minister for Health Promotion and Food Safety, today (24 April, 2008) announced the Government’s decision to strengthen the measures in place to control alcohol advertising. The Government has agreed to accept the strengthened Codes on Advertising and Sponsorship negotiated between the Department of Health and Children, representatives from the Irish Alcohol Industry and representatives from the Irish Advertising Industry. The Codes aim to reduce the exposure of young people to alcohol advertising and marketing. The revised Codes will further limit the volume and placement of alcohol advertisements across all media in Ireland.

A significant element of the new Codes will be the placing of an upper limit of 25% on the volume of all alcohol advertising. This means that alcohol advertising will be limited to no more than 25% of available space or time on any occasion across all Irish media i.e. TV, Radio, Cinema, Outdoor Advertising and the Print Media. Additional restrictions will be placed on the times and places that alcohol advertisements can appear. New restrictions will deal with alcohol advertising or sponsorship during the broadcasting of sports programmes. All alcohol advertising being placed in Irish media will continue to be subject to approval of content by Central Copy Clearance Ireland before acceptance by any Irish media. Monitoring and adherence to the Codes will be overseen by the Alcohol Marketing Communications Monitoring Body which was established by Department of Health and Children and is chaired by Mr Peter Cassells. Research will be undertaken into the effectiveness of the Codes to establish the extent to which they are being successful in reducing the exposure of young people to alcohol advertising.

The full text of the revised Codes will be published in the coming weeks.

Legislation

In tandem, the Department of Health and Children will commence a process to identify areas in relation to alcohol advertising, promotions and sponsorships where legislative measures might be necessary to afford greater protection to young people. This process would encompass areas outside of the scope of the existing codes on advertising. The review will have regard to the proposals announced by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to introduce legislation to regulate and restrict price-based promotions of alcohol.

Working Group on Sponsorship

On the basis of an existing code of practice, the Irish alcohol industry may not sponsor any sporting competitions, leagues, events or competitors where such events are designated specifically for participants under 18 years of age. In order to have a broader examination of the extent of alcohol sponsorships, the Minister will establish a Working Group to examine the extent of the existing sponsorships and the terms and length of existing contracts. The Group will seek to give direction to how concerns around the extent of sports sponsorship by alcohol companies might be addressed. Apart from sporting events, there is also a need to address concerns around alcohol companies’ sponsorship of large public events, particularly music events, which appeal mainly to young people and young adults. This matter will also be considered by this Group.

“I wish to endorse the views expressed by An Taoiseach yesterday. We need to take responsibility both collectively and individually in order to address the problems of alcohol misuse in our society. Government has a clear responsibility to ensure that our laws and regulations contribute, and indeed, drive cultural change in this area. I fully support the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform regarding the initiatives he is taking in relation to licensing law. The further restrictions on advertising and marketing that I am announcing are part of the Government’s ongoing response to the problem.”, the Minister said.

Background

The revised Codes on Alcohol Marketing, Communications and Sponsorship represent a strengthening of the existing Codes which have been in existence since 2004 and also extend to sports sponsorships by alcohol companies. The general principles of the Codes are set out below:-

•The purpose of these Codes is to reduce the exposure of young people to alcohol advertising and marketing. The Codes also aim to limit the overall level of alcohol advertising and sponsorship across all media in Ireland. The remit of the Codes will now extend to all Irish media.

•Where alcohol advertising is permissible under audience profiling a weight ceiling will apply across all media and sponsorships whereby alcohol advertising will be limited to no more than 25% of available space or time on any occasion.

•The codes are based on the principle of audience profiling across all media and sponsorships whereby alcohol advertising/marketing is not permitted unless the relevant medium has an adult audience profile of greater than 75% as opposed to 67% currently.

•No “stings” or “solus/whistle” breaks advertising spots for alcohol brands will be allowed during sports broadcasting. (These are the advertising slots or messages from the sponsors before the normal ads break at half-time or full-time match breaks).

•Family “breakfast” TV time (6am-10am) will be treated as children’s viewing time and will not carry any alcohol advertising.

•All alcohol advertisements must be pre-vetted and carry the Central Copy Clearance Ireland (CCCI) stamp of approval before acceptance by any media.

•A new Consultative Group will be established to advise and consult with the Chairman of the Alcohol Marketing and Communications Monitoring Body. This will allow a wider stakeholder involvement in the monitoring process.