Alcohol and Sports Sponsorship Update

Government BuildingsA ban on alcohol companies sponsorship of sport is still on the cards according to a written reply last week from the Minister for Health to a Dáil question on the future sponsorship of sport by alcohol companies.

Former junior Minister Roisín Shortall had tabled the question:

“To ask the Minister for Health the timescale being worked to in relation to the publication and implementation of the Public Health Alcohol Bill; and if he will confirm that the prevention of sponsorship of sporting events by the alcohol industry will not be dealt with in this legislation.” 

That confirmation was not forthcoming and the Minister instead included the regulation of sponsorship as part of the list of measures to be implemented, as well as outlining two specific measures that are being dealt with by a working group at the Department of an Taoiseach and which will be reported back on before the end of 2014.

“The Government has approved an extensive package of measures to deal with alcohol misuse to be incorporated in a Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. These measures are based on the recommendations contained in the Steering Group Report on a National Substance Misuse Strategy, 2012. The package of measures to be implemented will include provision for minimum unit pricing, regulation of the marketing and advertising of alcohol, regulation of sports sponsorship, structural separation of alcohol from other products in mixed trading outlets and labelling of alcohol products. Work on developing a framework for the necessary Department of Health legislation is continuing. It is hoped to publish a General Scheme of a Bill in the coming months.

The existing voluntary code that governs sports sponsorship will be placed on a statutory footing. A working group to examine the regulation of sports sponsorship has been established. The working group is chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach. The group has met twice to date and will report back by the end of 2014 on:

i) The value, evidence, feasibility and implications (including the public health consequences for children and young people) of regulating sponsorship by alcohol companies of major sporting events,

ii) Its consideration of financial implications and alternative sources of funding for sporting organisations to replace potential lost revenue arising from any such regulation.”

That examination will take place in parallel to discussions on the potential hosting of a Rugby World Cup and matches in the UEFA European Championship Finals, all of which would come with at least some element of alcohol company sponsorship.

Neither would be definitely ruled out by a ban.  France does have restrictions and is hosting the soccer finals in 2016.  Though that is part of a wider restriction on promotion not limited exclusively, as appears to be the target in Ireland, to sporting events and associations.


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