Republic of Ireland news

Cancer warning labels to be included on alcohol in Ireland says health minister Simon Harris

Cancer warning labels will be included on alcohol products in the Republic when new drink laws are introduced

CANCER warning labels will be included on alcohol products in Ireland once new drink laws are introduced, the health minister has confirmed.

Simon Harris said he saw no harm in putting warnings on alcohol.

"It is very appropriate that the risk would be highlighted," Mr Harris said.

The measure is included in the government's Public Health Alcohol Bill.

The proposed legislation, which aims to reduce alcohol consumption in the Republic, has been subject to considerable criticism from lobbying groups.

It was first proposed more than three years ago.

Last weekend a number of cross-party backbenchers pushed for warning labels to be omitted from the legislation, arguing they would damage the alcohol industry when it comes to international competitors.

There was speculation that Mr Harris would listen to them and drop the labelling policy.

Speaking ahead of a debate in the Dáil on the law changes, Mr Harris said it had always been the intention to put the warning notices on labels because alcohol can contribute to cancer.

He said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, as health minister in 2015, had talked about the need for such warnings.

"I've consistently said it," Mr Harris said. "The question was how best do you achieve it."

The minister said he hoped the "landmark" legislation would be passed by the Dáil after 1,000 days of "vested interests working day and night to beat this bill".

Mr Harris said similar legislation relating to tobacco had been successfully introduced in the past.

"Let's use that model that we know works in relation to alcohol, like we have done with tobacco," he said.

If passed, the bill would be the first time in the history of the state that public health legislation relating to alcohol has been introduced.

It would lead to the introduction of minimum unit pricing and the separation of alcohol products from other items in supermarkets.

Mr Harris said if it passes, the Department of Health will begin the process of designing the label. It would then have to be approved by the European Commission.

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