Ireland’s alcohol advertising ban in sports, as part of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act, has come into effect on November 12, 2021. Section 15 of the Act prohibits alcohol advertising in the sports area and section 16 prohibits alcohol sponsorship.
The new measures will make an impact on the nature of alcohol marketing, and reduce children’s exposure to alcohol promotion.

The provision for banning alcohol advertising and sponsorship in sports in the Public Health (Alcohol) Act in Ireland has come into force on November 12, 2021.

  • Section 15 of the Act prohibits advertising of alcoholic beverages in or on a “sports area” (eg, a playing pitch) during a sporting event, at events aimed at children or in which the majority of participants or competitors are children.
  • Section 16 of the Act prohibits alcohol sponsorship of events where the majority of participants or competitors are children, or the event is primarily aimed at children.

However, the Act permits sportspersons to wear clothing containing the name, trademark or logo of a brand of alcohol product, provided the sporting event in question is not aimed primarily at children. 

There are penalties for breaking the new laws including a fine of up to €250,000 and / or up to three years imprisonment.

A recent analysis of the Rugby Six Nations World Cup in 2020 by University of Stirling experts highlighted that a child viewing a match broadcast was exposed to an alcohol promotion every 15 seconds.

Alcohol Action Ireland estimates that section 15 will cut this harmful exposure to children in half.

Every 15 seconds
There was an alcohol reference during the Rugby Six Nations match in Ireland vs. Wales
There were 754 alcohol references or once every 15 seconds in the Rugby Six Nations World Cup match in Ireland vs. Wales.

According to the recent Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s ‘Statutory Report on the Effect of the BAI Children’s Commercial Communications Code’ (2021), seven of the top ten TV Programmes for Irish children, aged 4 to 17 years, were live sports broadcasts: GAA, Rugby and Soccer.

The new measures will make an impact on the nature of alcohol marketing, and reduce children’s exposure to alcohol promotion.

While these measures may be small against the scale of alcohol marketing in Ireland, they do nevertheless mark something of a bookend to the free rein of alcohol producers’ access to all areas of Irish life,” said Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications at Alcohol Action Ireland, as per their website.

A crucial step in obtaining the public health goals of reducing alcohol use is to dampen the stimulus of demand; were all the measures, as enacted by Oireachtas, operational, we could expect to see significant changes in our day-to-day environment that currently is awash with alcohol promotion and that does so much to attract children into early alcohol initiation.”

Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications, Alcohol Action Ireland

Previously, Alcohol Action Ireland has warned that alibi marketing, such as seen in France where alcohol advertising is banned, is an alcohol industry practice to watch out for in Ireland after the new measures against alcohol sports advertising come into force. In France, the Loi Evin prohibits alcohol sports sponsorship completely. Nevertheless, alcohol companies use the method alibi marketing to circumvent the law by using the colors, fronts and branding of the alcohol companies without directly using the names.

Alcohol Action Ireland has called on the Government to ensure the practice of alibi marketing does not spread to Ireland.

The Irish Government and public health officials need to be wary of the current loopholes we see in the French approach, and ensure our regulations protect against this,” said Dr. Sheila Gilheany, chief executive, Alcohol Action Ireland, as per The Irish Times.

Dr. Sheila Gilheany, chief executive, Alcohol Action Ireland

Public Health (Alcohol) Act of Ireland

The Public Health (Alcohol) Act was adopted into law in 2018. Among other evidence-based policy solutions, it contains the minimum unit pricing policy in section 11.

The government has taken a stage-wise approach and is making steady progress in implementing the different provisions of the Act. 

  1. In 2019, several improvements regarding alcohol marketing rules stipulated by the Act came into force, including bans on advertising in public transport, 200 meters from a school, creche, or local authority playground, in cinemas except for films which are classified as over 18 and on children’s clothing. 
  2. In November 2020, section 22 of the Act came into force which saw separation of alcohol in specified licensed premises. The introduction of this regulation is part of a process to de-normalize alcohol as an ordinary grocery product.
  3. On January 11, 2021 section 23 of the Act came into force. This meant the implementation of measures to de-normalize alcohol in Irish society by banning multi-buy deals, short-term price promotions and loyalty points for alcohol products.

Ireland is set to enforce their minimum unit pricing (MUP) policy in January 2022. The MUP policy aims to resolve the cheap alcohol problem. Accordingly, a floor price of 10 cents per gram of alcohol will be in effect from January 1, 2022.


EUCAM: “New Ban on Alcohol Advertising During Sporting Events in Ireland Starts Today!

Alcohol Action Ireland: “Alcohol Advertising Gets the Red Card from the Field of Sport”