The Irish government plans to restrict alcohol advertising in a bid to crack down on binge drinking.

Prime Minister Bertie Ahern announced earlier this week that the government will introduce legislation to outlaw all TV and radio ads before 10.00pm.

It plans to prohibit ads on public transport, at youth-friendly sporting events and in youth centres, while ‘happy hour’ cheap drink promotions will also be banned.

Addressing a drinks industry meeting, Ahern called on attendees to support a ban on the allegedly youth-targeted beverages known as ‘alcopops’ and called on the European Commission to bring in health warnings on packaging.

The government is concerned at the growing drink culture in Ireland. The country is behind only Luxembourg in the league of European Union per capita alcohol consumption.

According to WARC’s World Drink Trends 2003, the Irish drank 10.8 litres of pure alcohol per head in 2001, compared with 8.5l in the UK and 6.7l in the US.

“The problem,” declared Ahern, “involves a particular attitude to drink that has become widespread in our society. This attitude prioritises drinking to get drunk and binge drinking, rather than having a few social drinks with friends.”

This culture, he added, causes “serious social problems” and costs the Irish economy over €2 billion ($2.3bn; £1.4bn) in reduced productivity and other expenses.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff