The federal Australian Government has started formal consultations on the question of how to go through with the introduction of health warnings on alcohol bottles and cans. The alcohol industry itself has tried to keep one step ahead by introducing their own voluntary labels, which health professionals deem too soft. On the other hand, industry-backed groups have declared the health groups alternatives as ‘potentially alarming’.

 

This week, the federally-funded Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation released its favored warnings, including: ”Drinking alcohol increases your risk of developing cancers” and ”drinking alcohol damages the young developing brain”. These warnings have been developed on advice from health promotion experts and are backed by the Australian Medical Association, which has urged the government to introduce tough mandatory warnings. Beyond a mandatory warning, the labels would also refer people concerned about their alcohol intake to a government helpline.
Michael Thorn, chief executive of the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation, told The Sydney Morning Herald that health groups are concerned by the fact that the alcohol industry has sought to pre-empt the warning measures and insisted the government implement their warnings. He went on to say that Australian alcohol companies will soon be using their ‘weak, voluntary labels’ to direct consumers to an industry-funded website: ‘’But Australians need to get the facts now – at the point of purchase or consumption.’

According to the industry-supported educational group, DrinkWise Australia however, the warnings may not be reasonable. ”Some people would argue these are alarming. It is very important to get the full information and that is what we have done,’ Trish Worth, the chair person of DrinkWise Australia, told The Sydney Morning Herald. The information on certain labels set forward by DrinkWise Australia state: ‘Kids and Alcohol don’t Mix’, ‘Is your drinking harming yourself or others?’ and ‘It is safest not to drink while pregnant’.

For more information, see the website of [link=http://www.aerf.com.au/showcase/main.aspx]the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation[/link].

Source: Sunday Morning Herald 08/17/11

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