Calls For Alcohol Health Warning Labels

7 January 2015, 06:00 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

Eight in ten people in the North East would back the introduction of compulsory health warning labels on alcoholic drinks.

A survey, carried out nation-wide by the Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA), shows widespread support for more nutritional and health warnings on alcohol labels, as well as warnings not to drink when pregnant.

The research found in the North East:

*    80% of people would back moves for alcohol labels to contain information on how alcohol can affect their health.
*    The inclusion of an alcoholic drink's nutritional value and calorie content on labelling was supported by 69%.
*   84% support warnings on all alcohol labels which make it clear that the safest option when pregnant is to avoid drinking alcohol completely.

The findings come as a parliamentary debate on pregnancy and labelling of alcoholic drinks is due to take place in the House of Commons today led by Bill Esterson MP.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, said:
"People deserve to be provided with all the relevant health and nutritional information before they consume a product.

It beggars belief that ordinary household products such as cereals are regulated and alcohol - which is a group 1 carcinogen - is not.

Alcohol is linked to more than 60 medical conditions including seven different types of cancers, high blood pressure and depression, yet many people are unaware of the associated risks.

Products should contain health warnings and the Government should be running campaigns telling people of the potential harms linked to drinking alcohol."

The survey also found that while 86% of people in the North East believe it is important to know how alcohol can affect health, under half (48%) were aware of the links between alcohol and cancer.

Less than a third of people in the region were aware of the links between alcohol and breast cancer (32%) and just over half were aware of the link between alcohol and mouth/throat cancer (52%).

Under current EU legislation, food products and soft drinks are subject to labelling regulations which mean that information covering ingredients and nutritional value is mandatory. Alcohol, despite being classified by the World Health Organisation as a group one carcinogen, is exempt from existing legislation.

Under the Government's Responsibility Deal, some alcohol manufacturers have pledged to include more information on product labels however this is completely voluntary and unregulated and any health messages are often lost in the small print and existing labels do not provide any information about ingredients.