The use of labels on products to convey information and warnings on foods and beverages is now being used widely all over the world with an exception of alcoholic beverages despite the fact that more than 70% 0f the world’s population has reported consuming alcohol at least once within a span of one year, and that there is clear proof linking alcohol consumption with substantial harm and related costs (Farke 2011).
Alcoholic beverages are among the most sold and consumed goods all over the world. Regions such as Europe have the highest alcohol consumption in the world with an approximate of eleven liters of pure alcohol per person every year. Alcohol which comprises ethanol and ethyl alcohol can cause a wide range of severe and chronic disorders and diseases. Over 8% of all the early deaths and ill health in the world are linked to alcohol consumption and its related effects. Therefore, alcohol is not just like any other consumer good rather it is an important determinant of health. The consumers need to be made aware by giving adequate information for them to know the health and social consequences of consuming alcohol so that they can take precautionary measures to reduce the risk of any form of harm (Concern 2009).
As a step in initiating and implementing health policies to lessen alcohol-related harm, warning messages on the labels of alcoholic drinks and beverages can be used effectively as a measure to create awareness of the risks as...
sociated with alcohol consumption. Statistics show that a third of deaths from road accidents are due to driving under alcohol influence, furthermore, it has also been found that large percentage of suicides, liver cirrhosis, cancer deaths, neuropsychiatric and birth defects and developmental defects are as a result of alcohol consumption. Therefore, a rationale is given that consumers should be provided with relevant information on the health impact especially the risks and repercussions related to detrimental and hazardous alcohol consumption and any other additive that may cause harm to certain groups of people (Anderson & Baumberg, 2006).
There are many positive implications of health information and warnings on labels of alcoholic beverages (Farke, 2011). They include but not limited to the following:
- Giving information on the packaging of the beverage is an effective way of reaching nearly all consumers except those who are served with glasses in alcohol serving joints.
- It is also found to be cheaper to use labels on the products to convey information rather than carrying out campaigns in the mass media.
- Even though health messages and warnings on labels of alcoholic beverages are not sufficient to inform the consumers, the approach is a cheap and potentially effective way to pass information to consumers.
- The French experience on creating awareness about alcohol-related risks show that health warnings and messages on the labels of alcoholic beverages led to declining in pregnancy-related complications and infant developmental disorders linked to alcohol consumption.
- Study has also shown that the number of deaths associated with accidents caused by drunk driving has significantly decreased as a result of warning messages and information containe
on the labels as well as product promotion billboards along the streets and roads.
There are various messages attached to the consumption of alcohol and they include; the consumption of alcohol is a normal act and is healthy if taken responsibly. Some of the key messages include the following:
- The damage attached to alcohol normally takes place as a result of consumers who are deviant and are not in a position to handle the alcohol properly and hence causes problems to them(Wilde, 1993). It thus calls for responsible drinking of alcohol so as to ensure that the associated problems are not on the increase.
- It is also important to note that education on the responsible consumption of alcohol is the best ideal method which can help in protecting the society from the risks associated with alcohol. This means that all the concerned parties must work together so as to ensure that they mitigate the possible problems (Wilde, 1993).
- The marketing and branding of alcohol products is also very necessary as this helps in ensuring that the consumers of the products have a better consent of the alcohol product they are using. This will thus ensure that the risk factors are reduced.
- There is need also to look at the positive elements of alcohol consumption and not only associating its consumption with all the negative moral aspects in the society as this impact on the sales of the product and also the entire economy of a country (Wilde, 1993).
The packaging of the alcoholic drinks should be done according to the law and ensure that there is a display of the unit content. This information should also be merged with the set levels of consumption by both men and women based on the recommendation of the medical society. This standardization should be qualified by the pertinent food agencies. The packaged products should have a space set aside for the purpose government warning on the health issues of the product (D’Onofrio &Degutis, 2002). The messages should be similar to those which are put on the cigarette packets. For example the messages should have statements such as: excessive consumption of alcoholic drugs causes liver, larynx and even mouth cancer.
The wholesalers and retailers of alcohol product must not promote the products with no clearly defined unit label. This will help the consumers have access to the only recommended alcohol products which do not poses a lot of health risks among the users. This therefore calls for the licensing to only given to those producers and sellers who meet the set standards and hence avoid the health risks among the consumers (D’Onofrio &Degutis, 2002). The promotion of the product should be made in a way that it also outlines the health risks associated with the product but not only cover the positive facts about it while omitting the negative effects.
- Anderson, P., & Baumberg, B. (2006).Alcohol in Europe.London: Institute of Alcohol Studies, 2, 73-75.
- Concern, A. (2009). Message on a bottle-Does the public have enough information about what they are drinking. London, UK: Alcohol Concern.
- D’Onofrio, G., & Degutis, L. C. (2002). Preventive care in the emergency department: screening and
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