West Cork store owner agrees to stop ‘plastic glass promotion’ after HSE demand

A West Cork store owner who ran a ‘plastic glass promotion’ that allowed customers to buy 24 cans of beer or cider for € 30 has been urged by the HSE Environmental Health Department to stop the practice .

Colm O’Sullivan, who runs Sam’s Gala in Dunmanway, County Cork, offered customers 24 plastic cups for € 30 and in return they would get a credit worth € 47.34 which they could then use to purchase a range of items from the store.

These included 24 packs of 500ml alcohol cans, priced at € 47.34. Customers could also use the credit note to purchase a range of household items such as mops.

The promotion went viral on social media and before an HSE environmental health officer asked him to stop, Mr O’Sullivan said he had sold around 1,920 glasses to customers and that most clients, around 80 people, used their credit to get plates of alcohol.

He told the Irish Examiner: “I don’t claim to be a lawyer but I did my research and saw nowhere that said I couldn’t do what I did.

“However, I have been informed that regardless of what the minimum unit price law says, I have, according to the HSE, not followed the spirit of the law.

I was asked to stop and I do.

The government’s Minimum Unit Price (MUP) went into effect on January 4.

As a result, slices of cheap beer cans are now a thing of the past, because under the new system a floor price has been set for all alcoholic products under which they cannot be sold, i.e. -said slices of 24 cans of beer or cider should now cost around 40 €.

Alcohol offer at Sam’s Gala, Dunmanway, Co Cork, has gone viral on social media

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the measure was designed to reduce damage from alcohol abuse and delay the onset of alcohol use among young people.

However, retailers fear that the new measure will simply push consumers across the border, where such a system has yet to be introduced.

This is what happened in Wales and Scotland, which introduced a minimum price for alcohol.

While alcohol consumption has declined in both countries, the consumption or purchase of cheaper alcohol in the English regions bordering Scotland and Wales has increased.

“Gloss on a very serious problem”

Dr Ger McDarby, of the Irish Society of Specialists in Public Health Medicine, said: “Although this promotion was offered in a ‘cheeky’ manner, it obscured a very serious problem, namely the disproportionate negative impacts of high volume, low-cost alcohol on the poorest in our society that MUP legislation seeks to correct.

“As a society, we need to change our relationship with alcohol. Ireland has the third highest rate of fetal alcohol syndrome in the world and harmful alcohol consumption in this country is responsible for three deaths per day, 88 per month and over 1,000 per year.

“MUP is a way to start this change by reducing overall alcohol consumption, especially harmful consumption.

“It would be more helpful for retailers to support the goal of this intervention rather than promoting the harmful consumption of alcohol as well as excess plastic waste.”

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