Alcoholic drinks should carry health warnings, says parliamentary group

 
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Health warnings on alcoholic drinks should be introduced to combat problem drinking, a parliamentary group says.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Misuse said labels should warn about the harmful effects of drinking.

It wants political parties to commit to 10 recommendations to minimise alcohol-related problems in the UK - including cutting the drink-drive limit.

The government said it was working to reduce excessive alcohol consumption and tackle sales of cheap alcohol.

The recommendation document written by the group says: "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."

Start Quote

We are taking action to reduce excessive alcohol consumption and to give people better information about the impact drinking can have on your health”

End Quote Government spokeswoman
'Huge issue'

Among their recommendations, the MPs call for a reduction of the drink drive limit, the strengthening of regulations surrounding alcohol marketing and the introduction of a mandatory minimum price per unit for alcohol.

They also recommend a national public awareness campaign on alcohol-related issues, training for social workers, midwives and healthcare professionals and to make alcohol treatment available to 15% of problem drinkers compared with 6% currently.

Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, chairwoman 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."

Jackie Ballard, chief executive of Alcohol Concern told the BBC urgent action was needed to tackle the issue of alcohol misuse.

Alcohol Concern's Jackie Ballard: "This is about individual education and knowledge"

She said: "Alcohol is related to about 60 different health conditions. People think about liver disease as being caused by alcohol.

They don't think about increased blood pressure, increased risk of strokes, heart attacks, even cancer.

"So we're talking about a major problem. The MPs in this report describe it as a pandemic."

'Better information'

However, Sarah Hanratty, deputy chief executive of the Portman Group, which was established by the UK's leading alcohol producers to promote responsible drinking, said 80% of people drank "well within" the government's recommended guidelines.

She told the BBC News Channel that "graphic" health warnings on alcohol packaging would be a "step too far".

"I think there's lots of information out there for people. The industry here is doing incredible amounts of work in terms of voluntarily putting the government's guidelines on alcohol.

"Just look at the back of your label and you'll see things like the number of units in there, the chief medical officer's guidelines and all sorts of other useful information out there for consumers," she said.

It comes as Northern Ireland's health minister Edwin Poots says there is merit in the idea of charging fees to patients who end up in A&E as a result of alcohol or drugs.

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. And we have banned alcohol sales below the level of duty plus VAT to tackle the worst cases of very cheap and harmful alcohol."

 

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  • rate this
    +90

    Comment number 282.

    Isn't labelling alcohol a little like labelling a cliff edge as dangerous ?
    No reasonable adult would need such a warning and children can't buy (!) the stuff legally.

    Deal with the causes, deal harshly with the drunks and stop advertising it.

  • rate this
    +98

    Comment number 229.

    This is the kind of condescending nonsense we are fed in the UK. Everyone knows too much drink is bad for you, just like everyone knows too much cake will make you fat, doesn't stop people from eating cake nor will it stop people from enjoying a drink. If you expect people to behave like adults please treat them like adults.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 179.

    I don't think labelling will reduce alcohol consumption. The reason we drink much more than 30 yrs ago is that it is more readily available and is relatively cheaper...the things that affect consumption of anything is Price, Placement, Product and Promotion....marketing know this and really know how to get us to buy. If Government wants to change consumption they need to restrict all 4.

  • rate this
    +101

    Comment number 66.

    The best way of putting people off drink is to put the number of calories on the label. Most people have no idea how many calories they are drinking. The alcohol content only encourages them to drink stronger brews but a heavy calorie count would be a strong deterrent for a lot of young people especially women.

  • rate this
    +125

    Comment number 47.

    Warnings about something everyone knows is dangerous when consumed in excess will not solve the problem of problem drinking.

    It would be more constructive to look at the reasons people turn to booze?

    Breakdown of families, lack of job security, no sense of community, no support networks to help people when they need most need it eg soldiers leaving the army, prisoners being released etc

 

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  79.  
    @bbcnickrobinson Nick Robinson, BBC political editor

    tweets: "There's horror and there's hope". @Ed_Miliband speaks movingly of his grandfather who died in a Nazi camp & those who were saved @bbc5live

     
  80.  
    @ChrisMasonBBC Chris Mason, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: The most arresting sequence of Ed Miliband's @bbc5live interview was about Labour leader's loss of his grandfather in the Holocaust

     
  81.  
    Ed Miliband on TV debates BBC Radio 5 live

    "He gives it the big one about leadership," says Ed Miliband. If so, why is he so scared of the TV debates, the Labour leader asks of David Cameron. Mr Miliband says he'll take part, even if there's an empty chair where the Conservative leader should be.

     
  82.  
    08:00: Ed Miliband on NHS BBC Radio 5 live

    He says the NHS is always going to be a priority for Labour and "staff and patients are crying out for a sense of a plan" for it - adding that his party has "the right policy and the right plan".

     
  83.  
    07:56: Ed Miliband on NHS BBC Radio 5 live

    Labour leader Ed Miliband there is a "big fight on for the future of the NHS" and that he wants to "rescue" it, not weaponise it.

     
  84.  
    07:53: Ed Miliband talking NHS BBC Radio 5 live
    Ed Miliband on 5live
     
  85.  
    07:47: Andy Burnham on NHS BBC Radio 4 Today

    The shadow health secretary says the country needs to "rethink" the way we care for older people, who are often "trapped" on hospital beds and subject to "flying 15-minute visits" by social care workers on home visits. "We need to support people with dementia and autism as well as those with cancer," he says.

     
  86.  
    07:39: Andy Burnham on NHS BBC Radio 4 Today

    Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, tells BBC's Radio 4's Today programme the Labour Party is planning to "re-set" the NHS in England as the "National Health and Social Care Service".

     
  87.  
    07:25: David Cameron on election choice BBC Breakfast
    David Cameron

    David Cameron ends his Breakfast appearance by being asked about the lessons for the UK from what has happened in Greece. He says the election choice is "competence with the Conservatives", or "chaos with other options".

     
  88.  
    07:24: David Cameron on TV debates BBC Breakfast

    On the subject of TV election debates, Mr Cameron said it was a "good thing" that discussions had been taking place about which parties should be included. Asked if he would take part in the debates if Northern Ireland parties were included, he replied "yes", adding "a deal could be done".

     
  89.  
    07:21: David Cameron on apprenticeships BBC Breakfast

    David Cameron says apprenticeships are "very good" options for young people and the overwhelming majority of apprentices get jobs afterwards. The Conservatives are saying that they can create more using money saved by cutting the benefits cap limit.

     
  90.  
    07:16: David Cameron on benefits cap BBC Breakfast

    David Cameron tells BBC Breakfast that plans to reduce the benefits cap shows the Conservatives want to build on what he says is a successful policy of getting more people in to work - he says there was criticism in some parts of the country that £26,000 was too high. It's "absolutely crucial" to making sure young people get jobs and build a future for themselves, he says.

     
  91.  
    07:13: David Cameron on Breakfast
    David Cameron

    The Prime Minister David Cameron is appearing on BBC Breakfast from Downing Street.

     
  92.  
    @bbcnickrobinson Nick Robinson, BBC political editor

    tweets: Significance of today is not that it's 100 days until an election. It's Holocaust Memorial Day - when we pledge 'Never Again' @HolocaustUK

     
  93.  
    06:59: Party campaigns Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    The Tories are going on about the economy, there is a big push from Labour on the NHS today - I can see this going on right up to polling day. We've seen that the NHS is the number one issue for voters, but it has not yet translated to a lift off for Labour, despite the NHS winter crisis - which suggests the strategy appeals to the traditional Labour vote, but doesn't reach out beyond that.

     
  94.  
    06:57: The morning papers

    Meanwhile the Daily Mirror reports a survey which suggests a third of voters haven't made up their minds about how to vote yet.

    Mirror front page
     
  95.  
    06:53: The morning papers

    A bit more on how the 100 days to go point is being marked in the papers. With David Cameron and Ed Miliband appearing face-to-face on its front page, the i asks "where are the parties, what are the hot issues?". It also carries a poll suggesting the Tories have taken the lead over Labour.

    I front page
     
  96.  
    @ChrisMasonBBC Chris Mason, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: David Cameron is on @bbcbreakfast at 0710 and @BBCR4Today at 0810. Ed Miliband is on @bbc5live at 0750 and @bbcbreakfast at 0810.

     
  97.  
    06:42: Breakfast briefing
    Chris Mason on Breakfast

    The two main parties "will be playing their hits today - what they think works with voters", BBC political correspondent Chris Mason tells BBC Breakfast. So Labour's focus is on the NHS and integrating social care. The Conservatives are talking about the economy and the benefits cap - they want to lower the cap and use the money to create more apprenticeships. The Lib Dems and UKIP are both focusing on what impact they might have in partnership with larger parties.

     
  98.  
    06:35: The morning papers

    The Daily Telegraph has an interview with David Cameron in which the prime minister pledges to reduce the annual benefits cap to £23,000 as the first act of a new Conservative government - a theme that also features in the Daily Mail.

    Telegraph front page
     
  99.  
    06:29: The morning papers

    Most of the papers mark the 100 days to go, with the Sun featuring the faces of readers on its front page and setting out its "Sunifesto" in a special edition, saying there are "100 days to save Britain".

    Sun front page
     
  100.  
    06:27: The morning ahead Alex Hunt Politics editor, BBC News Online

    It's an early start for the party leaders with David Cameron and Ed Miliband both appearing on BBC Breakfast and BBC radio between 07:10 GMT and 08:30 GMT. Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems are also launching an election poster. The economy will take centre stage at 09:30 GMT when the GDP figures are out.

     

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