Loyalty card programmes and retail promotions that encourage alcohol consumption are to be banned under plans announced by Health Minister Simon Harris.
“Alcohol is a drug and one which has real risks and harms associated with it and as such, should not be the subject of promotional activity,” he said.
The minister said the regulations are aimed at reducing harmful binge-drinking and making alcohol less affordable for young people.
Mr Harris has notified the European Commission of his plans to introduce regulations provided under the Public Health (Alcohol) Act.
These include the awarding of loyalty card points for alcohol purchases and using points to buy alcohol.
Regulations will also be introduced to ban the sale of alcohol products at a reduced price or free of charge when another product or service is purchased.
Also, short-term price promotions of three days or less on alcohol products are to be banned.
Mr Harrris said alcohol is not an ordinary grocery product and the regulations are in line with the objectives of the Alcohol Act – to reduce alcohol consumption and misuse.
He intends providing a one-year lead in time after the regulations are signed off on which means it could be next September before the new rules come into effect.
Alcohol Action Ireland welcomed the move by the minister to seek the European Commission's approval to regulate alcohol promotions describing it as a "small but significant step in reinforcing the principle that alcohol is not an ordinary commodity".
However, it said it was disappointing that other "crucial" provisions in the legislation such as minimum unit pricing, restrictions on advertising and the broadcast watershed had not been commenced.