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Ireland can become a European Leader by introducing Minimum Unit Pricing of Alcohol

Brian Hayes MEP, speaking in the European Parliament at a specially organised conference on Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) of Alcohol today (Wednesday), defended the right of EU Member States to introduce MUP legislation.

The conference, which was hosted by Brian Hayes MEP and Scottish MEP Alyn Smith was addressed by Minister of State for Health Promotion Marcella Corcoran Kennedy.

“The European Court of Justice ruled last year in a case involving the Scottish Government and Scottish Drinks Industry that the decision to introduce Minimum Unit Pricing of Alcohol was a matter for National Courts. Last month the Scottish Courts ruled in favour of Scottish plans to introduce Minimum Unit Pricing of Alcohol.”

“The fact that both the ECJ and National Courts have ruled in favour of minimum unit pricing clearly shows that such legislation is within the competence of EU Member States.”

“Ireland is currently in the process of introducing Minimum Unit Pricing as part of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. Considerable opposition has been expressed by the drinks industry. We should not fear the threat of court action by the drinks industry. The ECJ ruling and the precedence now set by the Scottish Courts is evidence of our right to introduce this legislation.”

“This is a public health issue. The social and economic impact of alcohol on society is enormous. New research found that in 2013, 3 people died each day as a result of drinking alcohol. Misuse of alcohol in Ireland cost €2.35 billion in 2013 alone. There is also approximately 900 cases of alcohol related cancer diagnosis each year. We have a problem that needs confronting.”

“Minimum pricing will set a floor price for alcohol. It targets the products that are currently very cheap but have a high alcohol content. Pubs, restaurants and nightclubs would be unaffected by the legislation. It only applies to the off-trade. Minimum pricing has successfully been introduced in a number of provinces in Canada.”

“The legislation is not about preventing people from drinking. It is about reducing our consumption and improving our health. It is not a silver bullet solution. Ireland was a European leader in introducing the smoking ban and plain packaging of cigarettes. Many look to us to help work out new solution sin this area,” concluded MEP Hayes.

Source: Brian Hayes MEP blog