alcohol-barOn October 26, 2016 the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) publicly highlighted the link between breast cancer on its website and in the media calling for Irish politicians to implement Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 immediately.

In a statement Donal Buggy, Head of Services and Advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society said “There is widespread scientific evidence of the link between alcohol and breast cancer but little public awareness of it. In 2013 in Ireland 12% of breast cancers were caused by alcohol — that’s 353 cases a year. In the same year, 69 women died from a breast cancer caused by alcohol.”

“If we are to seriously tackle the rising cancer numbers, we need to tackle Ireland’s high alcohol consumption rate in tandem. Every year 900 new cancers and 500 cancer deaths are attributable to alcohol. We are urging politicians to support the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015, which is back before the Seanad today. It is now crucially important to progress it this Dáil term.”

The Public Health Alcohol Bill contains:

  • Health labelling of alcohol products
  • Minimum unit pricing for retailing of alcohol products
  • Regulation of marketing and advertising of alcohol
  • Enforcement powers for Environmental Health Officers

Donal Buggy-ICS: “As a member of the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA), we welcome this hugely important public health legislation, but we are asking the bill to go further in its labeling provisions and for a specific warning on alcohol products that highlight the link between alcohol and fatal cancers. Amendments will be tabled on this today.”

“People are simply not aware of the cancer risk associated with drinking alcohol, and we need to ensure they are presented with the facts. For every one standard drink a day you drink there is a 7% increase in breast cancer. If you drink 3-6 standards drinks a day, you increase the risk by 41%.

“The message is to drink less. Of the 900 new cancers each year related to alcohol, half of them could be prevented if people drank within the Department of Health’s guidelines. We know from experience in the fight against tobacco that public health legislation like the smoking ban works, and that is why it is so important this bill is enacted as soon as possible.”

The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 is indeed a sweeping piece of legislation, in fact it would far exceed anything that we currently have in the United States, and you can read it in its entirety here.

The following is a synopsis directly from the An Roinn Slainte (Irish) Department of Health web site:

The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 was approved by Government on 8th December. The bill aims to reduce alcohol consumption in Ireland to 9.1 liters (2.4 Gallons) per person per annum by 2020 and to reduce the harms associated with alcohol. The bill consists of 29 sections and includes five main provisions:

The bill 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 Authorized HSE officers and penalties for non-compliance, including fixed payment notices

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