Ireland, of all places, is gearing up to address the country’s problem of excessive drinking, hoping that warning labels on alcohol products will at least be a starting point. The country’s alcohol producers, according to The New York Times, however, plan to fight the new proposals tooth-and-nail.
It’s a stereotype that goes back centuries, that of the drunken Irishman who loves nothing more than his whisky and who never misses a chance to get three sheets to the wind. But to the Irish government, it’s no laughing matter. Alcohol abuse can have far-reaching consequences, and the Irish government would like to step in.
To that end, the Irish Parliament’s lower house on Wednesday passed a bill that, among other things, requires warning labels on alcohol products, warning labels at the point of sale (such as at the cash register) – including at the country’s breweries and distilleries, some of which are centuries old and are immensely popular with tourists – and requires separate liquor sections in stores, away from the rest of the merchandise.
It’s a small step, but it’s a starting point.
Ireland’s heavy drinking is at once legendary and well-documented. According to a 2014 survey by the World Health Organization, Ireland is the 2nd-drunkest country in the world when it comes to binge-drinking, behind only Australia, with 39 percent of the population admitting they get hammered at least once per month.
It’s also the 15th-drunkest country in the world overall, in terms of per-capital alcohol consumption, according to The Street. In case you were wondering, Ireland is not the drunkest country in Europe; that “honor” goes to Moldova, which is also #1 worldwide. The United States, by comparison, is positively sober, coming in at 57th.
Alcohol Action Ireland, the lobbying group that pushed for the new law, says that alcohol abuse destroys families, taxes the country’s socialized healthcare system, victimizes children, and is a factor in a third of all cases of domestic violence and suicide.
Ireland’s adult-beverage industry, however, says “not so fast.”
Patricia Callan, director of Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland, says that she supports the ideas behind the new laws, but says that they’ll do nothing to curb the real problem, and will make the country’s alcohol industry a pariah in the process.
“Imposing [these laws] will cause substantial reputational damage to our quality products by applying a stigma to products made in Ireland.”
Callan vows to fight the new law in court if it is passed.