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Ireland to ban TV ads for alcohol before 9pm from 2025

A ban on alcohol advertising on television before 9pm will come into force in the Republic of Ireland in 2025, the Department of Health has confirmed.

The ban. which is scheduled to take place from 10 January 2025 will mean that no alcoholic products will be advertised on Irish televisions between 3am and 9pm, according to local reports. The decision, will also reportedly involve advertising also being banned on Irish radio on weekdays between 3pm and 10pm the following morning.

The new measures are being implemented to work around the watershed are being brought in on a phased basis and are part of plans introduced in the Public Health Act 2018 and follows bans on alcohol advertising during sporting events in Ireland, a move which came into effect in 2021 and had been compared to France’s Loi Evin.

Speaking about the ban, a department spokesperson said: “The evidence is consistent that the advertising of alcohol products increases the likelihood that young people will start to drink alcohol or, if they are already drinking, to drink more.”

Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI) CEO Dr Sheila Gilheany explained to reporters that the measures to work to these timings are a crucial step to reducing alcohol consumption and added: “Right now, Diageo is the number four broadcast advertiser to children, so having a threshold before which you wouldn’t see alcohol advertisements is actually a really important thing in trying to reduce the exposure of children to alcohol, as well as the broader population as well.”

In 2021, a survey launched by AAI and Ireland, titled Thinks, discovered that 70% of Irish people supported stopping alcohol adverts from being shown on TV before 9pm.

The survey findings also revealed that, additionally, a further 68% supported restrictions to limit the advertising children become exposed to, while 66% backed stopping alcohol advertising from being streamed on social media channels.

As a further move, Ireland will also be the first country to introduce warning labels on its alcoholic products, detailing calorie content and health risks – a move that wine producers in Europe are railing against and calling “absurd”.

Speaking to db, a spokesperson from The Department for Health in the Republic of Ireland explained: “The Public Health (Alcohol) Act was enacted in 2018 to address high levels and harmful patterns of consumption which is a major cause of disease, disability, and death in Ireland. The Act introduces a suite of measures to contribute to a reduction in alcohol consumption and health harms, including minimum unit pricing, the regulation of advertising and sponsorship, the display of products in mixed retail outlets and health labelling. One of the primary objectives of the Act is to delay the initiation of alcohol consumption by children and young people. Evidence is consistent that advertising of alcohol products increases the likelihood young people will start to drink alcohol or, if they are already drinking, to drink more.”

The spokesperson pointed out that “Section 19 of the 2018 Act restricts the hours permitted for advertising alcohol products on television and radio” and outlined how “the Broadcast Watershed provision aims to reduce children and young peoples’ exposure to advertisements for alcohol products” and “the section prohibits alcohol advertising during times when children are likely to be in the audience for both TV and radio”. The spokesperson for the department confirmed: “Under section 19, there can be no advertisement for an alcohol product on television from 3am to 9pm and on radio on weekdays from 3pm to 10am. Section 19 has now been commenced and the provision will come into operation on 10 January 2025.”

Commenting on what is due to happen in the Republic of Ireland, the Department for Health in Northern Ireland made it clear to db that the situation does not affect Northern Ireland. A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland department confirmed: “In Northern Ireland, broadcast advertising is not a devolved issue.”

Responding to Gilheany of the AII’s comments, a spokesperson from Diageo insisted: “Diageo never targets its advertising towards children. We take our responsibility as a producer of adult products very seriously. We are subject to some of the strictest regulations of advertising in the world and comply with the legislation in place, including the PHAA, and advertising and broadcasting codes including BAI, ASAI and Copy Clear.”

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