IRELAND: Voluntary Code of Practice for Alcohol Advertising in Ireland
Authors: Duncan Grehan & Conor Griffin
The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (an umbrella organisation for representatives of leading drinks companies and the various vintners federations) in cooperation with the Association of Advertisers in Ireland, the Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland, the Department of Health and Children (Irish Government) and the members of the various media for advertisements (cinema, television, radio, posters, billboards etc) has agreed to a voluntary code of practice for all alcohol advertisements effective from 1st January 2006. The Code of Practice establishes a monitoring body, called the Alcohol Marketing Communications Monitoring Body, which will oversee the implementation of and adherence to the Code. The Board of the monitoring body will consist of a representative from the drinks industry, a representative from the advertising industry and two representatives from the Department of Health and Children.
The chief aim of the Code is to curb any advertising targeted at teenagers. Briefly, it has a number of general policies which apply to all media. All alcohol advertising must carry an approval stamp from Central Copy Clearance Ireland, a body which reviews alcohol advertisements for adherence with legislation and voluntary codes. The Code regulates where it is permissible to advertise alcohol and under what circumstances: e.g. alcohol advertising is only permitted in a cinema where more than 75% of the prospective audience will be over 18 years of age. On television alcohol advertising is banned where more than 33% of the audience is under 18. For outdoor advertising new rules are also established e.g. alcohol advertising cannot take up more than 33% of all advertising space and alcohol advertisements cannot be placed within 100 metres of a school entrance.
This Code further strengthens Ireland’s regulation of alcohol advertising. However children’s rights groups and various health organisations have criticised the Department of Health and Children as the Code of Practice is voluntary and not set down in any law. Originally a draft bill (Alcohol Products (Control of Advertising, Sponsorship and Marketing Practices/Sales Promotions) Bill) was prepared by the Government but this has now been shelved and replaced with the voluntary Code of Practice. There remains therefore a question over how effective any enforcement measures will be given that the Code is voluntary.