The National Off-licence Association of Ireland (NOffLA) today (1 December 2011) called on Government to put an end to voluntary codes of practice for the retail and marketing of alcohol in Ireland.
Speaking at the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, NOffLA Chairperson Evelyn Jones said, “Voluntary codes of practice do not work for the retail and marketing of alcohol as they are not being used by some retailers in the spirit for which they were intended.
“Across Ireland, we see evidence of alcohol being sold in stores beside confectionary, snacks and magazines which is a direct target on young people. The newspapers are awash with cut-price and volume deals of alcohol as the large retailers use alcohol to compete for their grocery market share.
“It is clear that voluntary codes of practice are not suitable vehicles for alcohol control.’
NOffLA, which represents independent community-based specialist off-licences across Ireland, is calling for legislation, which currently exists and was specifically drafted in 2008 to deal with the ill-effects of irresponsible alcohol sales and marketing, namely Sections 9 and 16 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act (2008), to be enacted.
Section 9 of the Act provides for the structural separation of alcohol products from other products in supermarkets, convenience stores, petrol stations and any other licenced premises which are deemed to be mixed-trading.
Section 16 makes provision for prohibiting or restricting the use of alcohol as a promotional tool in advertising.
At the time of the enactment of this legislation the then Minister for Justice deferred both sections and permitted a voluntary code of practice instead.
Speaking at the Oireachtas hearing, Jones said, “Alcohol is not like other products; its purchase should be conscious, no matter what age you are. Selling alcohol is very different to selling groceries or petrol, and clever insertion of phrases into voluntary codes such as, ‘as far as possible’, negate their proposed intention and allow for constant irresponsible manipulation of the display and sale of alcohol in Ireland.”
At the session, NOffLA also reiterated calls for mandatory identification for the purchase of all alcohol, regardless of age, and mandatory training for any person retailing alcohol.