Almost nine in ten support alcohol health warning labels, study claims

Posted by Editorial on 3rd August 2009

A survey commissioned by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) has indicated that the majority of Victorians support the introduction of labels detailing health information on alcohol products.

VicHealth has been a key promoter of the push toward warning labels on alcohol products akin to those on cigarette packages (graphic images aside). And a statewide survey commissioned by the health group has implied strong support from the public – or, at least, limited resistance – with 85 per cent of respondents reporting support for the scheme.

“The message is clear. Victorians support mandatory consumer information labels on all alcohol products, so they can make more informed decisions about their drinking,” VicHealth Chief Executive Officer Todd Harper, said.

The VicHealth Community Attitude Survey to Alcohol Policy 2009 asked people a range of questions including their drinking habits, their views on the accessibility and advertising of alcohol, how they thought alcohol should be taxed and whether they supported labels on alcoholic beverage containers.

Survey respondents rated their support for the following specific details on alcohol labels:

* 85 per cent supported recommended daily guidelines for low risk alcohol consumption;
* 89 per cent supported a warning message advising that exceeding the recommended guidelines may be harmful;
* 91 per cent supported health warnings for specific groups – eg pregnant women, young people;
* 76 per cent supported nutritional information;
* 86 per cent supported a list of ingredients;
* 93 per cent supported details of type of alcohol used in premixed drinks;
* 95 per cent supported a standardised display on the number of standard drinks in the container; and
* 96 per cent supported a standardised display of the alcohol content.

“The significance of these responses lies in the attitudinal change of Victorians. Nine out of every ten people agreed that alcohol is a serious issue in our community,” Mr Harper said.

Graphic and/or humorous labels were not perceived as wise options, rather considered, informative messages were sought.

“Victorians said they most preferred labels that told them something they did not already know,” Mr Harper noted. “They wanted facts presented in simple, clear, and unambiguous language.”