Wine bottles should feature health warnings, say MPs
Ministers should introduce health warnings on wine bottles in a bid to combat problem drinking, parliamentarians have said.
Labels on alcohol products should caution about the harmful effects of drinking, the All Parliamentary Party Group on Alcohol Misuse said.
Health warnings are a prominent feature on tobacco products but consumer information provided on alcohol packaging only extends to volume strength, they said in their manifesto for 2015.
The group has called on political parties to commit to 10 recommendations, which they say will help to minimise alcohol-related harm in the UK − including the introduction of health warnings on alcohol products.
The manifesto document states: “Health warnings are a familiar and prominent feature on all tobacco products. 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.
“In order to inform consumers about balanced risk, every alcohol label should include an evidence-based health warning as well as describing the product’s nutritional calorific and alcohol content.”
“1.2 million people a year are admitted to hospital due to alcohol”
The group also called for the introduction of a mandatory minimum price per alcohol unit, strengthening regulations on alcohol marketing and a reduction of the drink drive limit.
Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Misuse, said: “The facts and figures of the scale of alcohol misuse in the UK speak for themselves – 1.2 million people a year are admitted to hospital due to alcohol; liver disease in those under 30 has more than doubled over the past 20 years; and the cost of alcohol to the economy totals £21bn.
“Getting political parties to seriously commit to these 10 measures will be a massive step in tackling the huge public health issue that alcohol is,” she said.
Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe, vice-chair of the group, added: “After smoking, alcohol is the second biggest preventable killer. Not only does it cost lives but burdens the NHS and the criminal and justice systems and others with ever increasing costs.
“We need urgent action to tackle this and the significant harmful effects alcohol misuse causes”
“All the political parties know that but they run for cover when they are confronted by the drinks industry and its immensely powerful lobby,” he said.
“These proposals give them another chance to consider whether they really have the guts to take a different line for the country’s wellbeing in the future,” said Lord Brooke.
In response, Jackie Ballard, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said: “We need urgent action to tackle this and the significant harmful effects alcohol misuse causes to individuals.
“I hope all parties will read the manifesto and show a commitment to the vital measures which it highlights.”
A government spokeswoman said: “We are taking action to reduce excessive alcohol consumption and to give people better information about the impact drinking can have on your health.
“Through our Responsibility Deal, the drinks industry has committed to putting unit and health messages on 80% of all bottles and cans,” she said.
“And we have banned alcohol sales below the level of duty plus VAT to tackle the worst cases of very cheap and harmful alcohol.”