Responsible drinking messages on the rise

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union

Responsible drinking messages on alcoholic drinks labels, as well
as tighter advert rules, are expected to be introduced across the
EU's 27 member states in the near future.

'Positive' messages advising consumers to drink responsibly were increasingly becoming the norm in the EU, according to Helmut Wagner, senior advisor at the European Forum for Responsible Drinking (EFRD). His words come two days before the EFRD publishes a report on alcoholic drinks advertising in 13 member states. In it, drinks firms operating in the UK are expected to come out worst for infringing advert rules. More than seven per cent of adverts in the UK failed to meet advertising standards, according to figures quotes this week in the Financial Times​ newspaper. Wagner confirmed this but added it was "no surprise"​ because advert rules in the UK had become stricter during the review period. "This could have happened in any other country"​. He refused to give further details until the report is published, on Thursday. He did, however, re-iterate that the EFRD believed responsible drinking messages promoting moderate drinking would have more effect on consumer attitudes than cigarette packet-style health warnings on labels. Alcohol is the third biggest cause of premature death and illness in the EU, responsible for 195,000 deaths every year, and cost the bloc €125bn in 2003, the European Commission revealed in a recent report. Commission officials last autumn unveiled a blueprint for reducing alcohol-related harm, calling for greater commitment from both drinks firms and governments. In answer, Pernod Ricard, the world's second largest drinks firm, said it would put warnings for pregnant women on all its alcoholic drinks in the EU, something recently made compulsory in France. The UK drinks industry has shied away from warning labels in favour of promoting its responsible drinking website, Drinkaware. One source told BeverageDaily.com​ recently: "Labels are only a very small part of consumer education.​"

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