Under the code, alcohol-only TV and radio advertising will be banned, as will window displays and promotions. In-store alcohol advertising, including special offers, will be restricted to the area in which it is sold, and customers will not have to pass through that area to get to other products in the store.
Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Aldi, Lidl and the Spar and Londis groups, are among those who have signed up for the initiative, which is said to cover 2,800 stores and almost 80% of alcohol sales in Ireland's retail sector. The regime, while voluntary, will be policed and audited, with regular reports sent to Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern.
The initiative is aimed at reducing alcohol abuse, particularly among the young, but is also intended to maintain self-regulation at a time when Ahern was planning to introduce legislative measures that would have forced retailers to separate alcohol sales from the rest of the store.
He warned that if stores failed to abide by the code, legislation would have to be introduced.
A summary of the code will be displayed in all outlets, with a procedure established for complaints by members of the public who feel it is being breached.
Store compliance will be policed by Padraic White, former managing director of the Irish Industrial Development Authority, who said retailers were being asked to display and sell alcohol "in a significantly different manner than other products".