The lack of strict legislation governing alcohol advertising and sponsorship is allowing Irish children to be “groomed” by the alcohol industry, the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications has heard.
Dr Bobby Smyth, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, and Professor Joe Barry, Public Health Specialist, addressed the Committee yesterday (Wednesday) morning on behalf of Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, of which they are both board members.
Alcohol Action Ireland is calling on the government to implement the recommendations of the Steering Group Report on the National Substance Misuse Strategy, which would see alcohol sponsorship of sports phased out and bring an end to the current system of self-regulation for alcohol marketing, along with a large number of other, wide-ranging measures designed to reduce the significant economic and human costs of alcohol-related harm in Ireland.
We have a major alcohol problem in Ireland. It kills 1,200 people per year. There are 2,000 Irish people in hospital beds today due to alcohol use. The harms generated by alcohol are felt not just by the drinker, but by those around them also. 10% of Irish children say their lives have been adversely affected by their parents drinking. More starkly, it is estimated that parental drinking accounts for one sixth of all cases of child abuse and neglect. How strange these innocent victims of our drinking culture must find it looking out into an Ireland that chooses to bombard them with positive images of alcohol, linking it to fun, social and sporting prowess.
Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, is encouraging people to examine their drinking habits and to reduce their cancer risk by reducing the amount of alcohol they drink.
The charity has highlighted the link between alcohol and cancer in the latest in its series of information leaflets on alcohol, “Reduce Your Drinking: Reduce Your Cancer Risk”, which is available to download at DrinkHelp.ie.