Posted by Rita Mu
Alcohol industry-funded group, DrinkWise Australia, has launched four new labels to be displayed on alcohol sold in Australia.
The labels, to be introduced gradually as part of a voluntary scheme, were developed in collaboration with DrinkWise members who represent 80 per cent of alcohol sold in Australia.
The messages on the labels include:
• ‘Get the Facts’ about drinking alcohol from the DrinkWise website
• Kids and alcohol don’t mix
• Is your drinking harming yourself or others?
• It is safest not to drink while pregnant
The label messages will be supported by a retail point-of-sale campaign, with educational materials provided to consumers in outlets where alcohol is purchased.
Chair of the DrinkWise Australia Board, Trish Worth, said that research undertaken by DrinkWise through Quantum Market Research in 2010 found high levels of support in the community for consumer information messages on alcohol products.
“Two thirds of consumers surveyed said they would support the idea of information messages on alcohol labels and one third said they would be likely to seek more information about responsible drinking as a result of seeing a label message,” Worth said.
“Providing messages that prompt consumers to think about their drinking, and supporting those messages with ongoing education activities and campaigns, will help support the community in making informed decisions about their approach to drinking alcohol.”
Worth said the label messages were part of a broader community awareness and education campaign that DrinkWise was rolling out.
“It is widely recognised that labels alone will not change consumer behaviour and that they must be part of broader education initiatives to make an impact – which is why we have coupled the messages with a pointer to our website, and why we will continue to support them through our ongoing educational efforts,” she said.
“This initiative expands our campaigns from television, online and print directly to the consumer. Delivering consumer information messages via product labels and at retail point of sale will help us engage directly with Australia’s current drinkers.”
Executive Director, Professor Ian Hickie, at the Brain and Mind Research Institute at the University of Sydney, welcomed the new messages.
“The new and ongoing research leaves no doubt that delaying a teen’s initiation to alcohol is the right approach.” Prof Hickie said.
“From a brain science point of view, you would not mix alcohol and a teenage brain at any period. The idea that you would expose a teenage brain early to alcohol, to socialise it, is dangerous. It is an important message to get out to the community.”
Australian Medical Association President Dr Steve Hambleton said the warnings needed to be clearer and tougher.
"The labels introduced voluntarily by the industry do not go far enough," Dr Hambleton told the Australian Associated Press.
"The alcohol industry must make a full and genuine commitment to reducing alcohol-related harms to teenagers and young people by ceasing the targeted marketing of alcohol to teenagers and sponsorship of sporting and youth cultural events."