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Irish Cancer Society “shocked” at Labour attempts to remove cancer labelling from Alcohol Bill

Mr Donal Buggy, Head of Services and Advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society said: “This is a stunning U-turn from the Labour Party on hugely important provisions in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which will help inform the public of the link between alcohol and fatal cancers, so that they can make the right choices about their health.”

“To complete such an about-face on this Bill on the verge of Committee stage in the Dáil is astonishing.  We are calling on all parties to reject this bizarre change by Labour if they have any interest in protecting public health.”

Mr. Buggy said: “People who have cancers caused by alcohol are 50% more likely to die than those with other cancers. Cancers caused by alcohol are often particularly nasty ones, which have higher chances of mortality and cost more to treat.  Cancer labelling will help establish a social understanding that alcohol is a dangerous commodity, which is currently far from being realised”.

Awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer is low, despite the 900 alcohol-related cancers, and 500 alcohol-related cancer deaths each year in Ireland. The Healthy Ireland Survey showed that only one in four women were aware of the increased risk of breast cancer from heavy drinking, while only four in ten people were aware of the link with bowel cancer.

“We know that there is strong public support for health labelling.  A recent Health Research Board survey showed that 95% of people supported the inclusion of labelling on alcohol-related harms.  If other parties support Labour’s shocking change of heart, this will be a defeat for public health.”

“If Labour’s proposed removal of cancer labelling passes it will be a sign to the alcohol industry that they can pick apart this Bill piece by piece, and it will be out of step with not only the public interest, but public sentiment.  We have come to expect the alcohol industry to ignore the evidence, but the Health Committee cannot.”

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