The AHAI in 2018 and the enactment of the Public Health Alcohol Bill


It has been a momentous year in Ireland with the
enactment of the Public Health Alcohol Bill. Reflecting on this and the achievements of AHAI in 2018 are a series of videos.

The videos below reflect on the journey to enact the Public Health Alcohol Bill, the lasting legacy of the AHAI campaign and the challenges that remain.

REACT online training

REACT has launched a new online training course for students.

This training is primarily aimed at class reps, SU reps, and clubs and societies committee members, but any student could benefit from completing this training. This training is completely free and open for anyone to try.

While this training is aimed at students, the staff in your institution may also benefit from undertaking the training or using the additional resources provided.

This training will be freely available to anyone and can be accessed through the link below or via the REACT website, in the resources section ( or go can go directly to the course via this link (

This training would ideally be utilised as part of a regular class rep training but can also be promoted on campus and via the college’s or student union’s social media platforms.

The training is hosted on ‘Eliademy’, which is an e-learning platform. It can be completed on a computer, tablet or smart phone. The training takes approximately 40 minutes to complete. It includes 6 videos, 4 quizzes and an additional resources section. The additional resources section includes 4 infographs, which can be shared on social media, as well as additional information and a list of references which inform the training.

By having your student complete this training you will be fulfilling optional action point 4 of the REACT programme.

Responding to excessive alcohol consumption in third-level (REACT): a study protocol


The REACT team recently published a study protocol in the journal BMC Health Services Research. This protocol sets out the approach used for developing, implementing and evaluating the REACT (Responding to Excessive Alcohol Consumption in Third-level) Programme.

The REACT programme provides a structure to translate policy into practice for those seeking to reduce hazardous alcohol consumption and related harms among third-level students.

To find out more visit:

Ireland’s Public Health (Alcohol) Bill: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Industry and Public Health Perspectives on the Bill


REACT PhD student Susan Calnan recently published her critical discourse analysis on the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill in the Journal Contemporary Drug Problems.

The analysis illustrates how alcohol is problematized in markedly different ways in the debates and
how such debates are often underpinned by multifaceted elements. Despite such differences, it argues that there are still signs of a neoliberal rhetoric emerging within the public health discourses, raising a question over whether the Bill and its supporting discourses signal a paradigmatic shift or are more indicative of a policy embracing hybrid forms of rule.

Read the paper in full: Discourse analysis

‘The Untold Story: Harms Experienced in the Irish Population due to Others’ Drinking’


Heavy drinking has a “clearly substantial” impact on family, friends, colleagues and strangers, and costs others some €873 million annually, a new study has found.

The HSE’s first dedicated survey of alcohol’s harm to others in modern Ireland has found that 16% of carers have reported that children, for whom they had parental responsibility, experienced harm because of someone else’s drinking.

The report,’The Untold Story: Harms Experienced in the Irish Population due to Others’ Drinking’, highlights the fact that the harm from other people’s drinking can affect a wide range of relationships in a person’s life – family and friends, children, work colleagues and strangers.

It also reveals that half of all people living in Ireland have felt harassed, afraid or unsafe because of someone else’s drinking.

It makes very clear that preventing and reducing harm to others from drinkers is an urgent public health goal – equally as important as preventing and reducing harm to the drinker due to their own drinking.

Find out more: 

Public Health (Alcohol) Bill Position Statement


The REACT (Responding to Excessive Alcohol Consumption in Third-level) project strongly supports the full enactment of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill

“In the last number of years, university and college authorities have expressed concerns on a number of issues – alcohol promotion practices on campus, high-risk drinking among students, the impact of this drinking pattern on student academic achievement, student personal problems and student attrition.” [1]

These concerns expressed in 2001 are still relevant today, perhaps even more so. The findings from the 2002 to 2003 College Lifestyle Attitudinal National (CLAN) Survey in Ireland indicated that at least 60 in every 100 drinking occasions among students involved hazardous alcohol consumption. This suggests that hazardous alcohol consumption is now a cultural norm among university students in Ireland. A 2015 cross-sectional survey of University College Cork students found that 66% of students were drinking alcohol at hazardous levels. What is also alarming is the fact that a significant proportion of third-level students have an established pattern of high alcohol consumption before starting college, which is undoubtedly driven by the availability and accessibility of below cost beer and spirits.

With this in mind, the third-level sector has made significant moves to tackle this public health issue – including through the development of a recommended alcohol action plan for the university setting, the implementation of such an alcohol action plan in UCC since 2010, the decision by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) to disassociate itself from Drinkaware in 2013, and the development and implementation of the REACT project in 2015. Is it clear, however, that in order to create significant cultural change around alcohol, meaningful, multi-sector policy and legislative changes are needed.

The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill is a vital step in Ireland’s attempts to tackle this issue. It sets out measures in the following areas: minimum unit pricing, strict separation of alcohol products in mixed trading outlets, compulsory health-labelling on alcohol containers, restrictions on advertising and promotions and its goal is to reduce average annual consumption in Ireland from 11 to 9.1 litres per person by 2020.

The REACT project strongly calls for the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill to be enacted in full and not to be watered down by the efforts of those who profit so much from the sale of alcohol. The World Health Organization’s 2001 Stockholm Declaration on Young People and Alcohol states: ‘Public health policies concerning alcohol need to be formulated by public health interests, without interference from commercial interests.’ Enacting this Bill will, we believe, help to protect the health and well-being of our young people and student population – it is time for public health to take priority over vested interests.

REACT Public Health (Alcohol) Bill statement

How alcohol industry organisations mislead the public about alcohol and cancer


Global alcohol producers are deliberately misleading the public and policymakers about cancer risks associated with alcohol, particularly breast and colorectal cancer, to protect profits at the expense of public health — just like Big Tobacco did, say researchers.

Qualitative analysis of all text related to cancer found on websites and in documents from 26 alcohol industry organizations shows that most of the information extensively misrepresents evidence about the association between alcohol and cancer, says Mark Petticrew, PhD, professor of public health evaluation in the Faculty of Public Health and Policy at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom, and colleagues.

To find out more the full study is available here:

Contemporary Drug Problems Conference 2017


The fourth Contemporary Drug Problems Conference took place this year in Helsinki, Finland from 23rd to 25th August. Attending and presenting at this year’s conference was the REACT programme’s PhD candidate researcher, Susan Calnan.

At the conference, Susan presented her findings and reflections on a recently undertaken discourse analysis of the debate around Ireland’s proposed Public Health (Alcohol) Bill – an analysis which underlines the divergent and competing discourses around alcohol and its control in Ireland at present.

The CDP conference – organised by the international Contemporary Drug Problems journal team in conjunction with its host institution – is a unique event which provides a platform for a more critical analysis of alcohol and other drug issues. Rather than viewing approaches to drugs and alcohol as self-evident objects that pre-exist the responses developed to address them, this year’s CDP conference theme centred around a re-thinking of drugs/alcohol and their effects as constituted in various forms of practice.

The annual CDP conference attracts leading researchers and practitioners from a wide range of disciplines encompassing anthropology, epidemiology, public policy, sociology and related disciplines. A particular highlight of this year’s conference was the attendance of its two key-note speakers – Carol Bacchi, Emeritus Professor from the University of Adelaide, and Dr Cameron Duff from RMIT University in Melbourne.

Commenting on this year’s conference, REACT’s PhD researcher, Susan Calnan, remarked: “The CDP conference is a really interesting event which encourages participants to think outside the box and to examine their own assumptions as researchers and practitioners. It was encouraging and exciting to witness the range of groundbreaking research that is underway in the field of drugs and alcohol at present and which offers a fresh perspective on how we talk about and address the issue of alcohol and drugs in our society.”

For more information on the quarterly journal Contemporary Drug Problems, visit    

Celebrate the Leaving Cert results safely – Talk to your kids about alcohol


With Leaving Cert results just around the corner, the HSE is urging parents to take steps to ensure teenagers have a safe night out celebrating their results! Even if your child is over 18, it is important to speak with them and set boundaries around alcohol.

For safety, encourage them not to mix their drinks and to avoid shots. Parents should also advise against “pre-drinking” and make sure their teenager eats a substantial meal before going out. Tell them that if they feel themselves getting drunk they should stop drinking and switch to water. Always find out what your child’s plans are, who they will be with, how they will get home, and remind them to stick together and look out for one another. It is also important to let your child know that they can always call you, no matter what.

HSE Ask About Alcohol offers resources and support for parents, with information, advice and facts to help your child stay safe and be smart around alcohol. Some helpful advice includes “10 Tips for Parents” and “Tips for Talking to a Teen”.

REACT to harmful drinking among Irish third-level students


A new pilot initiative aimed at tackling excessive alcohol consumption among third-level students’ across Ireland has been launched in UCC.

Responding to Excessive Alcohol Consumption in Third-level (REACT) – is the first-ever national award and accreditation scheme which will recognise third-level institutions’ efforts to reduce excessive drinking among their students. The scheme has been developed following a rigorous review of previous efforts to reduce excessive alcohol consumption across 3rd level institutions, and includes a comprehensive range of evidence-based action points which have been designed to tackle harmful drinking amongst students’. In total, the REACT Award has eight mandatory and eighteen optional action points. These action points include training relevant staff in brief intervention, implementing a student alcohol policy and setting up a dedicated REACT steering committee in order to implement the programme. Optional action points include providing alcohol-free accommodation and social spaces for students as well as providing late-night transport to student accommodation.

At the launch, UCC’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health’s Dr Martin Davoren, explained that the design and introduction of this pilot programme has been fuelled by the need to reduce excessive alcohol consumption and related harm among third-level students in light of recent studies, including a UCC study published last year in the medical journal BMJ Open.  Dr Martin Davoren states “a decade ago, the College Lifestyle and Attitudinal National Survey noted that male students were drinking more than their female counterparts. What we are now seeing is that female students drinking as much as men. This finding is yet another signpost that our relationship with alcohol as a nation is unwholesome and detrimental to health. The REACT Award and Accreditation Scheme aims to arm third-level institutions across Ireland with the artillery to tackle excessive alcohol consumption in a strategic, evidence-based manner.”

Dr Michael Byrne, Acting Head of UCC’s Student Experience and Co-Coordinator of UCC Health Matters welcomed the new initiative, adding that it marked an important stage in addressing Ireland’s ongoing problem with alcohol; “it is important that efforts by 3rd level institutions and our student bodies to tackle alcohol related harm amongst students be recognised and rewarded. The REACT award and accreditation scheme is part of a wider national approach to tackle alcohol related harm in Ireland. We look forward to working with the Union of Students in Ireland on this important initiative.”

REACT-which is jointly funded by the Health Service Executive and philanthropic support- has been developed in collaboration with UCC Health Matters and the Union of Students in Ireland under the guidance of Dr Michael Byrne, Head of Student Experience at UCC, and Dr Martin Davoren, an alcohol researcher at UCC. Partner institutions’ include UCC, TCD, DCU, I.T. Tralee, I.T. Sligo, I.T. Blanchardstown, Mary Immaculate College, GMIT and CIT.