DrinkWise Australia CEO, Cath Peachey, has defended the industry body’s ‘Get the Facts’ campaign as part of its on-going awareness raising and educational efforts.

In the below piece, written exclusively for TheShout, she outlines DrinkWise Australia's position on warning labels.

“International research on alcohol warning labels has demonstrated some effectiveness in raising awareness, but labels alone have not proved effective in changing behaviour towards drinking.

DrinkWise Australia, in collaboration with its producer members, have taken the view that consumer information messages on labels provide an opportunity to prompt consumers to think about their drinking behaviour and seek further information, and are likely to be more effective if they are included as part of broader community awareness and education campaigns.

That is why DrinkWise Australia introduced the ‘Get the Facts’ consumer labelling initiative as part of their broader education initiatives.

The core message encourages consumers to ‘Get the Facts’ from the DrinkWise website which provides up-to-date evidence based fact sheets on alcohol to help people make informed choices when drinking.

This core message can be used alone on labels or in tandem with three other messages:

  • Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix
  • Is Your Drinking Harming Yourself or Others?
  • It is Safest Not to Drink While Pregnant (an alternative to text is provided via a pictogram)
  • The messages are supported with retail point of sale brochures, a pointer to our website and continued support through DrinkWise’s on-going awareness raising and educational efforts.

We think we have got the balance right in encouraging the community to make informed decisions about their approach to drinking with evidence based messages.

Some public health lobby organisations are supporting more simplistic messages on labels, modelled very much like the tobacco warning labels.

There is a very real difference between alcohol and tobacco. Tobacco is harmful to your health – there is no such thing as safe tobacco use.

Alcohol is different – it does need to be consumed with care and responsibility and the National Health and Medical Research Council provide guidelines to assist the Australian community to understand these risks.

Our concern is that this simplistic approach may be more direct but it goes beyond the evidence and the opportunity to engage and inform consumers will be missed as these warning labels may be rejected outright.

Education is at the heart of DrinkWise Australia’s activities and we remain committed to the 'Get the Fact' labelling initiative.

Changing our drinking culture so that consuming alcohol too young or to excess is considered undesirable involves greater community awareness about the issues associated with alcohol misuse.

We are working to achieve this by providing practical resources that support and inform the community about moderate alcohol use."

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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