Plans for clearer labelling to highlight the alcoholic content and the amount of units contained in the drink are to be announced by the Government.
A consultation is to be published today by the Department of Health on the proposals.
If the drinks industry fails to comply with a voluntary code, ministers may consider compulsory warnings, it has been reported.
The effects of drinking alcohol, the amount of units contained in the drink and recommended daily limits could all feature on the labels. Featuring the logo of the Drink Aware campaign is also being considered.
The announcement comes as some drinks companies are apparently refusing to comply with a voluntary code to introduce labels themselves.
Health Secretary Andy Burnham said: “We have now received assurances to comply from most of the major manufacturers and retailers. I invite the industry as a whole to deliver on these assurances.”
Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: “The code should be mandatory. If the industry is dragging its heels, we cannot wait another three years for them to comply.”
Director of Royal College of Nursing England Tom Sandford said: “Throughout the UK, nurses see the devastating consequences of alcohol misuse everyday. It is vital that tougher action is taken to turn the tide on the rising numbers of people who are suffering, or even dying, as a result of excessive drinking.
“Today’s reportconfirms what we already know – the drinks industry has failed to stick by its promise to take voluntary action on alcohol labelling. We can’t afford to keep giving the industry the option not to make changes which are essential to protecting the nation’s health. That is why the RCN is calling for a mandatory code which would introduce tighter regulation of the advertising, labelling and sale of alcohol.”