Another ‘Leaving Cert’ celebration begins without adequate legislation in place to protect young people.
As another season of post Leaving Certificate results parties begins, Alcohol Action has called on government and the Oireachtas to finally act and pass the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill before next year’s celebrations comes around.
Commenting on this year’s activity, Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications and Advocacy at Alcohol Action Ireland, said:
“Priced based promotions continue to be used extensively to attract young people, who are keenly price-sensitive and often deliberately targeted by these promotions.”
A review of social media postings from a variety of night clubs and bars this week highlights the widespread use of such promotional tools at Leaving Cert Party nights in nightclubs and venues, with admission charges typically co-related to a specific number of available drinks; a variety of drinks being available to a certain admission price, or packages of reduced priced drinks being made available to certain groups.
The HSE also recently warned of this specific promotional targeting of Leaving Cert students: “The ‘conversation’ with your children has already started. Examples of these events pages online encourage attendees to “celebrate your results or drown your sorrows” with promotions such as €3 drinks, “Vodka Boats”, free shot of choice, glass of bubbly on arrival, a free bottle of champagne with tickets, 5 free drinks tokens or “pints, bottles and Jägerbombs”. While many Leaving Cert students are over 18 and legally entitled to drink alcohol, drinking in this manner poses a significant hazard to their health and leaves them vulnerable to taking risks.”
Dr. Eamon Keenan, HSE National Clinical Lead of Addiction Service, advises:
“When young people are targeted with cheap alcohol promotions, it can result in them drinking a lot of alcohol in a short period of time. This can cause rapid intoxication resulting in young people feeling disinhibited and leading to changes in their behaviour and taking risks they wouldn’t normally consider. These include drug taking, unprotected sex, possible aggression and getting into fights. They may also experience lowering of mood and, in some cases, depression or anxiety can be worsened. We need to talk to our teenagers about the effects on their health of excessive drinking and how to avoid risk taking behaviour.”
The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which has now languished before the Oireachtas for over 600 days, world establish firm restrictions on the use of such price-based promotions, regulating:
- Selling or supplying alcohol products free of charge or at a reduced price to a particular
category of people.
- Selling or supplying alcohol products during a limited period (three days or less) at a price
less than was being charged for those same products the day before the offer began.
- Selling or supplying alcohol products free of charge or at a reduced price to someone
because they have bought a certain quantity of alcohol products or any other product or
- Promoting a business or event in a way that it intended or likely to cause people to drink in a
The Bill states that the provisions regarding price-based promotions also include the award, directly or indirectly, of bonus points, loyalty card points or similar benefit for purchasing alcohol products, which can be used to obtain alcohol products or other products or services free of charge or at a reduced price.
The principal purpose of regulating price-based promotions is to reduce the health harms from high risk alcohol consumption, but it would also likely have a positive impact on alcohol-fuelled crime, such as public order offences, and fewer alcohol related accidents.