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Call for compulsory labelling of alcoholic drinks

The government today (Friday 3 October) faced calls to legislate for the introduction of compulsory labelling on all alcoholic products to help people understand and manage their drinking habits.

The British Medical Association (BMA) in Scotland believes that compulsory standards for labelling alcoholic beverage containers that provide guidance on recommended drinking guidelines would enable people to make informed choices on alcohol.

Dr Peter Terry, Chairman of the BMA in Scotland, said: “Unfortunately, many people are confused as to how much alcohol is in each drink. This can lead to binge drinking or regularly drinking over and above the recommended allowance, which brings with it a host of social, psychological and physical problems.

“The drinks industry agreed to a voluntary code to label drinks with their alcohol content in 1998. Yet, 10 years on, it is not working and it is time for government to take tough action.

“Legislation is the only way forward. Labelling on alcohol content and units along with clear guidelines on the daily drinking limits would help people to better understand their own drinking habits and encourage them to make informed choices, rather than being tempted with confusing measures and marketing ploys.

“We are disappointed that standardised labelling has not been included in the Scottish government's plans to tackle Scotland's drinking problem, and only hope that this oversight will be revised.”

The call comes in light of Scotland's Alcohol Awareness Week (5-11 October 2007).

In a survey of Scottish doctors, more than eight out of 10 doctors believe that alcoholic drinks manufacturers should be compelled to clearly label their products with the number of alcohol units.

Dr Terry added: “It is the responsibility of the drinks industry, both producers and retailers, to ensure that their customers are fully aware of the alcoholic content of the beverages they purchase and the potential harmful consequences of excess consumption.”