Ireland Promotes Healthier Alcohol Consumption With Warning Labels


In a groundbreaking move, Ireland has become the world’s first country to mandate comprehensive health warning labels on all alcohol products. Under the provisions of the Public Health (Alcohol Labelling) Regulations 2023 and Section 12 of Ireland’s Public Health (Alcohol) Act, alcohol labels will now include essential information such as calorie content, grams of alcohol, and crucially, warnings about associated health risks.


Innovation to ensure risk awareness

Ireland’s commitment to public health is evident in these regulations. With alcohol consumption linked to over 200 conditions and diseases, these labels aim to increase awareness and empower consumers to make informed choices. Notably, Ireland is also the first country in the EU and the second globally (after South Korea) to introduce cancer warnings on alcohol products.

Starting in 2026, every alcohol product sold in Ireland will display essential health-related information, serving as a wake-up call for consumers. The new regulations address key concerns related to alcohol consumption during pregnancy, the potential dangers of liver disease, and the heightened risk of developing cancers caused by alcohol.

The specification of size, color, and other design elements for the health warnings ensures that the messages are clearly visible.

Exporters of alcoholic beverages to the Republic of Ireland would be well-advised to contact McNeese Customs & Commerce, in order to be properly informed and equipped to comply with these regulations, before placing their products on the Irish market.


The troubling data of mistaken beliefs

The decision to introduce these labels was informed by alarming statistics surrounding alcohol-related harms in Ireland and a lack of awareness among Irish consumers about the health risks associated with alcohol consumption. The Irish Health Survey revealed concerning trends, including the misconception that it’s safe to consume a small amount of alcohol during pregnancy. Additionally, a significant portion of respondents were unaware of the elevated risks of diseases like breast cancer linked to alcohol consumption. 

The survey also pointed out that the younger age group (15–24) exhibited a lower awareness level compared to older demographics.


The progressive initiative’s objective

By providing detailed information about health risks, alcohol content, and calorie content, Ireland aims to empower individuals to make healthier choices and mitigate the harms of alcohol consumption. The regulations also specify design elements for health warnings, ensuring they’re visible and impactful.

Dr. Carina Ferreira-Borges, Regional Adviser for Alcohol, Illicit Drugs, and Prison Health at WHO/Europe, praised Ireland’s forward-thinking approach: “Rather than urging people to ‘drink responsibly’, we should be raising public awareness of the range of harms associated with alcohol consumption.” She added, “WHO has long advocated for comprehensive labeling on alcohol products, recognizing that it can inform consumers about the risks associated with alcohol consumption so that they can make informed choices.”


A driving force

Ireland’s proactive stance in prioritizing public health is laudable. With these regulations in place, the nation sets an example for others to follow, promoting a future where consumers are better equipped to understand the potential consequences of their choices. As Ireland leads the way, the World Health Organization stands ready to support and collaborate with other countries striving for evidence-based alcohol policies that prioritize health and well-being.

The journey towards responsible alcohol consumption has just begun, and with Ireland leading the way, positive change is on the horizon.