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Barriers to alcohol products in shops a ‘significant step’

The recent creation of enclosures for alcohol in mixed sale shops is a “significant” step in “de-normalising” alcohol as an ordinary product, Prof Frank Murray, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, has told this newspaper. However, Prof Murray raised concerns over the trend in off-trade sales during the pandemic.

The requirement for barriers or enclosures surrounding alcohol products has been recently introduced under section 22 of the Public Health Alcohol Act, 2018. “The operation of section 22 is a significant step in the de-normalising of alcohol as an ordinary product,” Prof Murray told the Medical Independent.

Prof Frank Murray

“By implementing this aspect of the law… we have made an important step to ensuring a future generation has an opportunity to redefine their exposure to alcohol and that the insidious promotion and cultivating of impulsive purchasing by retailers is reduced.”

Asked whether he had concerns about companies using their zero alcohol products to potentially advertise or sell these products outside the enclosed areas, Prof Murray said “the continuing expansion of a market offering on non-alcoholic product by alcohol producers, under the same brand name, is merely [an] extension of alcohol promotion”.

“However, it is helpful that some alcohol users have an opportunity to drink less alcohol.” Prof Murray also said the Alcohol Health Alliance was concerned about the “significant increase in off-trade sales”.

“From the outset of this crisis, Government should have established restrictions on the availability, volume and cost of alcohol. The introduction of minimum unit pricing, enacted over two years ago, could and should have been commenced.”

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