Ireland: Minister Chastises Big Alcohol in Schools
The Irish Minister of Health chastised Big Alcohol for conducting awareness programmes in Irish schools.
It’s completely and utterly bizarre that you’d have a body funded by the [alcohol] industry educating our kids about the dangers of alcohol… I means it’s ridiculous. I’ve never been a fan of self-regulation,” said Minister of Health Simon Harris as per the Irish Times.
According to the latest data, while total alcohol consumption is reducing in Ireland, the country still has the 3rd highest adolescent binge alcohol use rate in the world.
The alcohol industry has funded school alcohol awareness programmes mainly through Drinkaware.ie – Big Alcohol’s lobby front group in Ireland. This is a clear conflict of interest as their products and practices are the cause for alcohol harm to be creating awareness about among school students.
Alcohol industry involvement in awareness and information campaigns is particularly troubling given that Big Alcohol’ front groups have been found to try to emphasize personal responsibility and “moderation” instead of focusing on actual harms of alcohol, policy solutions, and people’s right to live free from alcohol.
Launch of national evidence-based resource on alcohol and other drugs
Mr. Harris shared his opinions at the launch event for “Know the Score” which is the first national, evidence-based resource on alcohol and other drugs. The resource was developed by public health and education professionals and is aimed at senior cycle students and teachers.
This is an important resource. Minister Harris is correct when saying:
“It is not appropriate that schools use any materials or resources developed by organisations funded by the alcohol industry.”
‘Big alcohol’ cannot be allowed to be the ‘educators’ of our children. https://t.co/4740OuM0w6
— AlcoholActionIreland (@AlcoholIreland) November 27, 2019
Among the topics addressed in the new resources are the impact of alcohol on the body and brain, the influences of alcohol branding and how to provide emergency care if someone who has been consuming alcohol or taking other drugs falls ill.
The Minister of Health believes the new resource along with new laws which prohibit the advertising of alcohol close to schools, will help ensure that there will be “no room for alcohol in Irish childhoods.”
Minister for Education Joe McHugh stressed the importance of teachers in helping children understand the harms and risks of alcohol and other substance use. The new material will be used for teachers conducting classes for senior students.