Overwhelming support for warning labels on alcohol

Michelle Wisbey

23/10/2023 3:29:51 PM

A distraught mother is pleading for health warnings to be added to products, after her 26-year-old son died from alcoholic liver disease.

Several hands holding various alcohol glasses.
A national poll of more than 1000 people found 78% support the addition of warning labels to alcohol.

Confronting health warning labels could soon be added to alcoholic products, under a new push to inform drinkers of potential dangers.
The RACGP has backed the campaign, which is calling for the introduction of labels similar to those found on cigarette packets, warning of liver disease, alcohol poisoning and poor mental health.
The calls come as a national poll of more than 1000 people found 78% support the change.
More than half of respondents said the labels should include cancer warnings, and 48% wanted injury risk to be included.
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said the findings confirm that Australians want the facts about the harm alcohol causes to people’s health.
‘Everyone deserves to stay healthy and well, but alcoholic products contribute a heavy disease burden in Australia, and people need better information and support,’ she said.
‘GPs see alcohol’s harm to people’s health firsthand in their practices, and also observe how many patients are unaware of how many illnesses are linked with alcohol use.’
Those risks are something New South Wales mother Rachel Allen knows all too well, after her 26-year-old son Dylan tragically died from alcoholic liver disease last year.
‘By knowing the risks involved, people can better determine what they are putting into their bodies and how this could affect their health detrimentally,’ she said.
‘I think Australians, especially young people, need to know that alcohol has the potential to destroy your life and my son is proof that it can take your life very young.’
The proposed labels would be reminiscent of warnings on cigarette packaging, which have been in place in Australia for decades.
A 2018 survey into the cigarette labels found 52% of Australian smokers said enhanced graphic health warnings introduced in 2012 made them think about quitting.
Meanwhile, new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggest one quarter of all Australians aged 18 and over exceed the Australian Adult Alcohol Guideline of consuming more than 10 drinks in the past week and/or consuming five or more drinks on any day at least monthly.
Additionally, the rate of deaths from alcohol has increased for the fourth consecutive year.
Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) Chief Executive Caterina Giorgi said health warning labels on alcohol are important at a time when harms from alcohol are increasing.
‘Every one of these deaths represents the loss of a member of our community, someone with family and friends who have been left devastated by a preventable loss of life,’ she said.
‘Clear information about the harm alcohol causes to people’s health and wellbeing needs to be presented on these products’ labels, to counter the relentless alcohol company marketing we in the
community are exposed to every day.’
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