By Andrew Starke
Mandatory health warnings on alcohol labels may be a step closer following the release of a new survey that shows overwhelming public support for the idea.
The report, commissioned by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth), found that 85 percent of people interviewed support the introduction of labels detailing health information on alcohol products.
The state-wide telephone survey of more than 1500 Victorians, conducted in February and March 2009, is believed to be the first in Australia to measure community attitudes across a variety of alcohol-related issues.
“The message is clear,” VicHealth CEO Todd Harper said. “Victorians support mandatory consumer information labels on all alcohol products, so they can make more informed decisions about their drinking.”
The survey 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.
According to Harper, communicating health messages to consumers through product packaging is an efficient and effective way to reduce harm. He pointed to the success of tobacco pack labels as a good example.
Australian alcohol producers and manufacturers who export their products to the US already label their products with a health warning to meet the requirements of the US government.
“Why is it that we add health warnings for foreign consumers but we don’t give the same information to Australian consumers?,” asked Harper.