Fine Gael TD Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy believes the Public Health Alcohol Bill (PHAB) will save lives.
Deputy Corcoran-Kennedy, an Offaly TD, says the implementation of the Bill is urgently needed for public wellbeing. It is due to be discussed in the Seanad tomorrow (Wednesday).
“Alcohol is not an everyday commodity like bread, eggs or milk. Medical evidence proves that alcohol causes cancer like tobacco and is a psycho active drug. The International Agency for Research on Cancer of the WHO has classified alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen similar to arsenic and asbestos. People are dying every day because of their alcohol consumption.
“Previous generations understood this and Governments the world over know this. That is why they put an excise tax on it, and restrict its sale to specific premises during specific times. They know that reducing alcohol consumption will improve quality of life. They know that the benefits are better mental and physical health, weight loss, reducing risks of alcohol related diagnosis of liver failure and various cancers,” Deputy Corcoran-Kennedy said.
The Fine Gael TD said there is a simple reason as to why there is so much fuss about the proposed PHAB – profit.
“The global drinks industry wants us all to keep drinking alcohol just like the tobacco companies want us to keep smoking. The alcohol companies and supermarket chains want our children to see alcohol as an ordinary product.
“The tactics of the alcohol industry to thwart and delay this legislation are exactly the tactics that the tobacco industry used for years.
“It is no surprise that the alcohol industry has fought Scotland through the courts and delayed their intention to introduce Minimum Unit Pricing (targeting price of strong cheap alcohol) for the past 5 years.
“It is no surprise that they are fighting the labelling provisions because then we would know the calorie content and nutritional breakdown of each product.
“No surprise that they are rejecting the provisions to control alcohol marketing because our children and young people are the alcohol drinkers of the future.
“Despite claims by the alcohol industry to the contrary, it was widely consulted on the legislation. Pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill saw extensive engagement with a wide range of stakeholders including the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI).”
Deputy Corcoran-Kennedy said indisputable facts cannot be ignored.
“Alcohol is a factor in half of all suicides and in one in three self-harm cases; the rate of alcohol related liver disease trebled between 1995 and 2013; one in ten breast cancer cases are caused by alcohol; 167,170 people suffered an alcohol related assault; alcohol is a factor in one in four deaths of young men, alcohol causes twice as many deaths than all other drugs combined; alcohol is a factor in one third of all drownings; one in four people attending A&E have alcohol related injuries half of which are people under 30; one in four traumatic brain injuries are alcohol related; two fifths of all deaths on our roads are caused by drink driving; 1500 beds per day are occupied by people with alcohol related problems.
“Public health legislation is the responsibility of all public representatives. We must enact the Public Health Alcohol Bill 2015 without delay,” she said.
The PHAB was introduced into Seanad Éireann in December 2015 by then Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar.
The Public Health Alcohol Bill 2015 was included in the Programme for Government agreed with the Independent Alliance and supported by Fianna Fáil under the Confidence and Supply Agreement.