The alcohol industry don’t want health warning labels

Family First, as part of our submission on the Alcohol Reform laws, called for public health warning on alcohol products. We said

1.1               Family First is proposing health warnings to be placed on alcohol and within alcohol advertising, in the effective way that health warnings have been placed on cigarettes. The UK have adopted a similar scheme and there have been recent calls for health warnings in Australia also
1.2               The proposed warning labels should include words such as “know your limits” or “drink responsibly”, the number of units each drink contains, and the recommended safe drinking level for that beverage
1.3               They would also warn that drinking alcohol should be avoided if pregnant or trying to conceive.
1.4               They should give the web address for alcohol support and education groups.
1.5               This will help people calculate how much they are drinking, whether they are staying within sensible drinking guidelines, the potential risks of abuse, and helping people to make the right choices

I thought that this would be a fairly common sense approach in the same way that we have health warnings on a number of foods, tobacco, and even electrical equipment!

However, the real agenda of the alcohol industry is proved in this article from the Sydney Morning Herald

HEALTH warnings linking alcohol with dire outcomes such as brain damage and cancer have been backed by health groups but described as potentially ”alarming” by an industry-backed group. The fight over safety labels between the health sector and the multibillion-dollar liquor industry is warming up just as the federal government finally begins formal consultations today on long-awaited warnings, introduced in the United States 22 years ago. The federally-funded Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation yesterday released its favoured warnings, including: ”Drinking alcohol increases your risk of developing cancers” and ”drinking alcohol damages the young developing brain”….

Trish Worth, who chairs the industry-supported educational group, DrinkWise Australia, questioned whether the latest warnings were reasonable. ”Some people would argue these are alarming. It is very important to get the full information and that is what we have done,” Ms Worth said, referring to the DrinkWise website. The president of the AMA, Steve Hambleton, said the labels introduced voluntarily by the alcohol industry ”do not go far enough … They represent a soft approach on health labelling. ”Warning people, especially young people, about the potential harms of alcohol cannot be left in the hands of an industry motivated by increasing its sales and profits.”

Exactly! Self-regulation by the industry (including the advertising industry) simply doesn’t work.