The Cabinet has signed off on plans to ban below-cost selling of alcohol products by introducing a minimum pricing unit as part of new measures to tackle alcohol misuse.  

The proposals contained in a long-delayed Bill, also include calorie and health warning labelling and marketing restrictions.

As previously revealed, the proposals stop short of a ban on drink companies sponsoring sports events.

The minimum pricing unit will make it illegal to sell or advertise for sale alcohol at a price below a set minimum price.

It is aimed at those who drink in a harmful and hazardous manner and is designed to prevent the sale of alcohol at very cheap prices.

New rules on labelling will make it compulsory to include health warnings and advice, the amount of pure alcohol and calorie counts.

Pubs and restaurants will be obliged to provide this information to customers.  

The Government says the minimum pricing unit is able to target cheaper alcohol relative to its strength because the minimum price is determined by and is directly proportional to the amount of pure alcohol in the drink. 

It has also made it illegal to market or advertise alcohol in a manner that is appealing to children and for the first time there is legal regulation of sports sponsorship.

In a statement, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said the bill is designed to reduce alcohol consumption and limit the damage to the nation's health, society and the economy.  

He added that he is aware that the detail will not satisfy everyone but he said he was not prepared to postpone the legislation and have endless discussions and delays.

Alcohol Action Ireland said the proposed bill would address the issue of alcohol abuse.

It said legislation to reduce alcohol abuse enables the State to protect the young and the vulnerable.

CEO, Suzanne Costello said: "Measures to implement minimum unit pricing, new enforcement powers for Environmental Health Officers, and health labelling of alcohol products are all welcome and will have a significant impact.