It’s never too early to pro­mote healthy liv­ing

Fingal Independent - - OPINION - With Deb­o­rah Cole­man

AF­TER 1000 days of de­bate, the Pub­lic Health Al­co­hol Bill passed through the Dáil last week with some long over­due reg­u­la­tions set out. From next week, al­co­hol can­not be ad­ver­tised within 200 me­tres of a school, crèche or lo­cal au­thor­ity play­ground and this alone is a pos­i­tive move.

In ad­di­tion, from next year, there will be no al­co­hol ad­ver­tis­ing in cine­mas ex­cept for movies with an 18 rat­ing.

Such ad­ver­tis­ing will also be banned at pub­lic trans­port stops and ve­hi­cles and pub­lic ser­vice ve­hi­cles.

These may seem like small and to some, mean­ing­less changes, but as part of a wider push to ed­u­cate our youth about the dan­gers of al­co­hol mis­use they can­not come soon enough.

We fi­nally seem to be mov­ing away from the Ire­land which cel­e­brated drink­ing to ex­cess and en­joyed bliss­ful ig­no­rance of the health risks that drink­ing ex­cess al­co­hol pose.

The dam­age that this at­ti­tude has done to so many peo­ple in our coun­try over gen­er­a­tions is stag­ger­ing and to this day our health ser­vice is still creak­ing un­der the pres­sure of deal­ing with al­co­hol-re­lated com­plaints and con­di­tions daily.

I heard a statis­tic re­cently that in Ire­land, three out of ev­ery 10 deaths in the coun­try is re­lated to al­co­hol con­sump­tion, whether that is be­cause of a phys­i­cal ail­ment or an ac­ci­dent or men­tal health prob­lem that oc­curs as a re­sult. If this isn’t the wake up call we need, then what is?

Min­is­ter Si­mon Har­ris de­scribed these mea­sures as a ‘ground-break­ing’ last week and I agree.

Many will not see their merit straight away, and think it’s a lot of fuss de­signed to tar­get the al­co­hol com­pa­nies but it is in fact a bill that will con­trib­ute greatly to spark­ing a so­ci­etal change which will ben­e­fit our youth for gen­er­a­tions to come.

It’s about pro­mot­ing a health­ier ap­proach to al­co­hol and sim­ply hav­ing un­reg­u­lated ad­ver­tis­ing which is all over the place is not a good mes­sage to be send­ing to children.

Many might ar­gue the merit of ban­ning such ads near crèches, but if we re­ally want to send a healthy mes­sage to younger gen­er­a­tions then why not start from the be­gin­ning?

It’s never too early to pro­mote a healthy life­style.

We fi­nally seem to be mov­ing away from the Ire­land which cel­e­brated drink­ing to ex­cess and en­joyed bliss­ful ig­no­rance of the health risks that drink­ing ex­cess al­co­hol pose.

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