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alcohol health alliance uk

Calls for mandatory health warnings on alcohol products

Posted 02/12/15

Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, is calling for health information to be mandatory on alcohol labels - a measure which is supported by 4 out of 5 people in the North East.

Alcohol is linked to more than 60 medical conditions including cancer but currently more than one in three North Easterners (39%) are drinking at increasing and high risk levels and awareness of the associated health harms in the region is low:

Balance is calling for the measure to increase the awareness of the health harms associated with alcohol consumption, ensuring people are given the health information to make their own informed choices.

Despite being classed in the same cancer-causing category as tobacco and asbestos, alcohol labelling is even less regulated than food labelling. 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 is exempt from this.

Colin Shevills, Director at Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, said: “If, like tobacco, alcohol can cause cancer surely we have a right to know. Given the serious harm alcohol can do to a person’s health, it’s astonishing that alcohol isn’t subject to the same labelling regulations as everyday foods. We’re all entitled to know what we put into our bodies and alcohol should be no exception.

“Providing drinkers with information about the link between alcohol and a range of medical conditions is particularly important here in the North East where over 740,000 risky drinkers believe they have nothing to worry about.”

A 2015 survey conducted by campaign group Alcohol Health Alliance found that 80% of people in the North East support all alcohol labels including information on how alcohol can affect health.

It also revealed that:

Colin Shevills continued: “We already know there is widespread public support for health warnings to come as standard on alcohol labelling, with the vast majority of North Easterners saying they would back the move.

“We recognise that changing packaging regulations is not something that can happen overnight and in the meantime we will continue to work to educate people across the region on the numerous health risks associated with alcohol misuse.”