Should alcoholic drinks feature health warning labels?

22nd August 2014 - Fine Cut

MPs have urged the government to consider putting health warning labels on alcoholic drinks. 

The All Parliamentary Party Group (APPG) on Alcohol Misuse released a manifesto earlier this month that outlined several recommendations, including educational labels on beer, wine and spirits. 

According to the APPG, information and awareness-raising campaigns are vital for informing the public on the dangers of alcohol, and warning labels would bring the industry in line with tobacco companies. 

The labels would not only outline the health risks, but also provide nutritional data. 

"Health warnings are a familiar and prominent feature on all tobacco products," the APPG manifesto read.

"Likewise, detailed nutritional labelling is ubiquitous on food products and soft drinks. Yet consumer information on alcohol products usually extends no further than the volume strength and unit content."

The APPG said alcohol is a known carcinogen and is linked to more than 60 different health conditions. The group added that current public understanding of the risks associated with alcohol is low, outside of liver disease. 

Strategies to lower the harm suffered from alcohol should form a part of mass media health campaign funding and development, the APPG argued. However, there is currently no nationwide alcohol campaign receiving independent funding, the group said. 

Group chairperson Tracey Crouch told the Daily Telegraph that most of the information currently found on alcohol packaging is "very, very small". 

This is compared with smoking-related warnings that are often far more prominent. 

Ms Crouch claimed there should also be calorie information on alcohol, which may discourage some people from consuming large quantities. 

She said professional women are one particular demographic where alcohol consumption is on the rise and more awareness could help to reduce their intake. 

"We know that women are very conscious of calories so we think there needs to be more information about calories on labels," she added. 

Other recommendations put forward by the APPG included a minimum price on a unit of alcohol and increasing funding and access to treatment for problem drinkers. 

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