Measures to warn drinkers about the link between cancer and alcohol on bottles have been agreed by the Oireachtas Health Committee.

The measures are included in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which also proposes to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol and impose restrictions around alcohol advertising to protect children. 

Minister of State at the Department of Health Catherine Byrne told the committee that the measures complied with European Commission rules and there was "no block" to them being introduced.

The intention of the health warning provision was to ensure that consumers are "informed of the generality of the health risks associated with alcohol and not to highlight one particular risk," she told the committee. 

"The purpose of this measure is to provide health information to consumers on the link between alcohol and fatal cancers. It is no more than that. 

"The result of the provision will be that consumers will be made aware of the settled international scientific consensus that there is a link between alcohol and cancers and he or she can make a decision on that basis," Ms Byrne said.

The proposal to include warnings about cancer was supported by Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil. An amendment by Labour TD Sean Sherlock on the issue was withdrawn.

The proposal to label bottles with the cancer warnings was sharply criticised by groups within the industry.

The Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland said the move would be confusing and misleading.

A statement from the Federation said "no other country in the world has mandatory cancer labels on alcohol products, and such a measure applies a stigma to products made in Ireland".

"If introduced, these labels would be inaccurate, misleading and trade distorting," ABFI's Director Patricia Callanan said. 

She said the health warning labels would also impose significant costs on Irish producers and distributors, because they will be required to develop labels specifically for the Irish market and a second set of labels for elsewhere.

However, the Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland welcomed the Bill's progress, describing it as an essential part of addressing our harmful relationship with alcohol.

"It is more than 900 days since Leo Varadkar as minister for health introduced the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. This is the first time that any Government has addressed our harmful relationship with alcohol in public health legislation and I welcome its passage at Committee stage in the Dáil today," the Chair of AHA, Prof Frank Murray said.