Alcohol

The enactment of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act was included in the Programme for a Partnership Government and was a priority for Government. The Act completed its passage through all stages of the Houses of the Oireachtas on 3rd October 2018 and was subsequently enacted when signed into law by President Higgins on 17th October 2018.

The primary policy objectives are to:

  • reduce alcohol consumption to 9.1 litres of pure alcohol per person per annum by 2020,
  • delay the initiation of alcohol consumption by children and young people,
  • reduce the harms caused by the misuse of alcohol, and
  • regulate the supply and price of alcohol in order to minimise the possibility and incidence of alcohol related harm;

These objectives were developed in recognition that alcohol causes harms to health, significant costs to the Exchequer and that alcohol consumption in Ireland remains high.

The principles guiding the objectives are that the harms of alcohol make it unlike other grocery products, that consumers should be able to make informed choices about their drinking and that it is time that children and young people’s relationship with alcohol was addressed.

The Act consists of 31 Sections and includes the following main provisions:

  • minimum unit pricing;
  • health labelling of alcohol products;
  • the regulation of certain aspects of the advertising and marketing of alcohol;
  • separation and reduced visibility of alcohol products in mixed trading outlets; and
  • the regulation of the sale and supply of alcohol in certain circumstances.

Commencement of the Provisions of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018

On 12 November 2018, 23 of the 31 sections of the Act were commenced. The commencement of the remaining provisions of the Act are a priority of this Government. The sections of the Act commenced include:

  • Section 14. Prohibition on advertising in certain places: prohibits the advertisement of alcohol products in or at certain places. This section will come into operation 12th Nov 2019.
  • Section 15. Restriction on advertising during events: restricts alcohol advertising during certain events and will come into operation in 3 years time on 12th Nov 2021.
  • Section 16. Sponsorship: provides that it is an offence to sponsor or cause to sponsor certain events which promote an alcohol product, brand or alcohol consumption. This section will come into operation in 3 years time on 12th Nov 2021.
  • Section 17. Children’s clothing: prohibits the manufacture and import of children’s clothes for sale in the State and the sale of children’s clothing to a person in the state with alcohol branding. This section has a built-in wash through period of 12 months with the intended application date of the requirement of 12 November 2019.
  • Section 20. Advertising in cinemas: restricts alcohol advertisements in certain areas and for films certified under 18s. This will come into operation on 12th Nov 2019.
  • Section 22. Separation and visibility of alcohol products and advertisements for alcohol products in specified licensed premises: concerning separation of alcohol products from other products in mixed retail outlets. This section has a lead-in time of 2 years built into the provision, with the intended application date of the requirement of 12 November 2020.
  • Section 23. Regulations relating to sale and supply of alcohol products: the Minister can make regulations relating to alcohol advertisements or promotions likely to encourage consumption.

Useful Links

The Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 is available here.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) is responsible for providing Health and Personal Social Services for everyone living in the Republic of Ireland.

The website www.askaboutalcohol.ie was established by the Health Service Executive which is the body responsible for the provision of health and social services for persons living in Ireland. The purpose of this website is to improve Irish people’s knowledge about alcohol – including general consumption, the effects on health and mental wellbeing, and to provide support and assistance for anyone with concerns about alcohol. Askaboutalcohol.ie can also be contacted by telephone on 1800 459 459

For information and guidance on alcohol and addiction services provided by the HSE visit: