British men show resistance to alcohol health warnings

By Linda Rano

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cent, Alcoholic beverage, Mintel

New research from Mintel suggests that health warnings and unit
labelling on alcoholic drinks, which could become statutory in the
future, might not deter heavy drinking, especially among men.

The findings could lead to the industry having to possibly rethink its marketing strategies, which are already coming under scrutiny from alcohol charities and other organisations. According to the research, only 40 per cent of men think the health warnings are a good idea, compared with 49 per cent of women. In addition, the findings suggest that only 30 per cent of men and 36 per cent of women believe that these labels will make them think about how much they are drinking. Mintel also finds that only 44 per cent of men would find it useful to know the number of units they are consuming, compared to 53 per cent of women. In comparing the responses of men and women, Mathilde Dudouit, senior research analyst at Mintel, said that for women, the move might be a step in the right direction to combat excessive drinking. However, "men clearly are much more set in their ways when it comes to what they drink, and it will be harder to convince them to change their habits​," she stated. Dudouit added that the trend towards stronger drinks and larger glasses means that British drinkers can no longer be sure how many units they are consuming. Therefore, Without clear information, many people are unaware whether they are exceeding their safe alcohol level. Last year, Britons drank over 7.7 billion litres of alcohol, according to Mintel. While the study found that some consumers are cutting back on alcohol as part of a healthier lifestyle, the amount consumed as a nation has stayed the same for the past five years showing that those who drink, are drinking more, Mintel said, Current industry efforts ​ Some industry representatives believe that alcohol manufacturers are more than doing their part in terms of corporate responsibility. Michael Thompson at the Portman Group, an industry led social responsibility agency, told BeverageDaily.com that all nine of the organisations member groups (producing 60 per cent of all alcohol sold in the UK), already provide information on their products concerning number of units. Aside from this, the group also calls for a message about responsible drinking on their products and advertising as well as information about drinkaware.co.uk, a website offering advice about healthy drinking levels. Thompson also said that there is an agreement between the government and industry that other information should also be added including daily recommended drinking guidelines and that women should avoid alcohol if pregnant or they want to conceive. At the moment this is voluntary. However, if there is not a wide spread adoption of the five messages the government might consider introducing legislation, said Thompson. A review of how the five messages have been adopted could be instigated by the end of the year. Portman packaging audit ​ In March this year, an independent audit assessed the packaging of 485 drinks against the Portman Group's code of practice on the naming, packaging and promotion of alcoholic drinks, finding a high level of compliance. This code demands among other things that the alcohol content of a drink must be made clear, its alcoholic strength should not be dominant and it must not encourage rapid or down in one drinking. The producers of the packing of the 32 brands which raised concerns were given four months to make changes or face an independent complaints panel, the decision of which could result in the removal of a drink from sale.

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