Can of beer will cost at least €1.95 under new legislation

The government wants to remove the influence of alcohol advertising near schools

A can of beer will cost a minimum of €1.95 under new legislation announced today.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar has published laws which set a minimum price for each unit of alcohol.

A bottle of wine will cost around €8.60, while a bottle of beer would cost €1.29.

While a bottle of supermarket own-brand vodka could more than double in price from €13 to €28.

Minimum unit pricing (MUP) means a 'floor price' is being set, beneath which alcohol cannot legally be sold.

It is designed to stop the sale of strong alcohol products at very low prices in the off-trade, particularly supermarkets.

Mr Varadkar says he is not cancelling Christmas - and that the legislation will be life-saving and reduce admissions to accident and emergency departments.

It sets out measures in the following areas:

  • A minimum unit price of 10c per gram of alcohol in alcohol products, to eliminate very cheap alcohol from all stores and shops
  • Structural separation of alcohol products from other products in outlets, either by containment in a unit or a separate area of the store, so that it's not sold like a normal groceries product
  • Prohibition of price-based promotions and tougher restrictions on targeted promotions such as 'happy-hour'
  • Health warnings and calorie labelling on alcohol products, with corresponding warning signs and information in pubs and off-licences
  • Regulation of advertising, marketing of alcohol and sponsorship, with criminal sanctions applying for the first time
  • An enforcement regime with inspections by authorised HSE officers and penalties for non-compliance, including fixed payment notices

 Its goal is to reduce average annual alcohol consumption in Ireland from 11 to 9.1 litres per person by 2020.

Labels on alcohol products will also have to detail:

  • The amount of pure alcohol as measured in grams and the calorie count
  • Health warnings (including for pregnancy)
  • A link to a public health website to be set up by the HSE, giving information on alcohol and related harms

Alcohol Action Ireland has welcomed the publication of the Public Health Alcohol Bill.

It says it is "a landmark piece of legislation and a critical first step in addressing one of our most significant public health problems".

"Alcohol misuse claims three lives every day in Ireland and has a hugely damaging impact on our nation’s physical and mental health" said head of advocacy, Conor Cullen.

"It’s also important, in the context of legislation, to remember that the harm caused by our alcohol consumption extends far beyond the individual who is drinking, to impact on families and communities throughout Ireland".

"Alcohol places a huge burden on our health services, costs the State an estimated €3.7bn per year and is a major contributory factor to serious issues such as road safety, crime, self-harm, suicide, domestic violence, and child welfare" he added.

The bill will also enforce new bans on alcohol advertising, with no ads permitted near schools, creches and public transport.

Advertising on TV and radio will also be restricted until after the 9.00pm watershed.

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