Irish Cancer Society welcomes passage of Public Health Alcohol Bill

Today the Irish Cancer Society welcomed passage of the Public Health Alcohol Bill through all stages in the Dáil, calling it a ‘victory for public health’, which positions Ireland as a global leader in reducing alcohol-related harm.

Policy and Public Affairs Manager at the Irish Cancer Society, Paul Gordon said: “This is a victory for public health, which sends a strong message that we can and will change our harmful relationship with alcohol in this country. The passage of the Bill has been long and, at times, arduous but, as a country, we can take pride that our legislators have acted in the public interest, in the face of bitter opposition, to ensure it can be enacted shortly.”

“The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, in particular, has demonstrated tremendous perseverance and passion in guiding this legislation through both houses of the Oireachtas, with the strong support of his Taoiseach, and other Government colleagues, such as Marcella Corcoran Kennedy.”

“We must also recognise the strong input of opposition Deputies and Senators, including Senators Ged Nash and Frances Black, who worked so hard to improve the Bill through amendments including those highlighting the link between alcohol and fatal cancers in labelling and advertising.”

Awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer is low, despite the 900 alcohol-related cancers, and 500 alcohol-related cancer deaths each year in Ireland.

Mr Gordon said: “The inclusion of ‘cancer labelling’ in the Bill is a hugely important measure and one that has faced fierce resistance. It will ensure that consumers are aware of the risks of consumption and will help establish a social understanding that alcohol is a dangerous commodity, which is currently far from being realised”.

People who have cancers caused by alcohol are 50% more likely to die than those with other cancers. Cancers caused by alcohol often have higher chances of mortality and cost more to treat.

“The Society wants to commend the heroic efforts of champions of public health across a range of sectors including professional bodies, charities and NGOs, including our colleagues in the Alcohol Health Alliance, in ensuring this Bill was passed.”

The Bill will now go to the Seanad for final consideration, before being signed into law by the President.

“Enactment of the Bill will position Ireland as a global leader in reducing alcohol–related harm. Its targeted measures, including health labelling, minimum unit pricing and marketing restrictions, will reduce the consumption of those at greatest risk of harm, protect children from slick advertising and save lives”.