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Alcoholic drinks should carry health warnings, says parliamentary group

Health warnings on alcoholic drinks should be introduced to combat problem drinking, a parliamentary group says.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Misuse said labels should warn about the harmful effects of drinking.

It wants political parties to commit to 10 recommendations to minimise alcohol-related problems in the UK - including cutting the drink-drive limit.

The government said it was working to reduce excessive alcohol consumption and tackle sales of cheap alcohol.

The recommendation document written by the group says: "Health warnings are a familiar and prominent feature on all tobacco products. Likewise, detailed nutritional labelling is ubiquitous on food products and soft drinks.

"Yet consumer information on alcohol products usually extends no further than the volume strength and unit content.

"In order to inform consumers about balanced risk, every alcohol label should include an evidence-based health warning as well as describing the product's nutritional, calorific and alcohol content."

“We are taking action to reduce excessive alcohol consumption and to give people better information about the impact drinking can have on your health”  - Government spokeswoman
Among their recommendations, the MPs also called for a reduction of the drink drive limit, the strengthening of regulations surrounding alcohol marketing and the introduction of a mandatory minimum price per unit for alcohol.

'Huge issue'

Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, chairwoman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Misuse, said: "The facts and figures of the scale of alcohol misuse in the UK speak for themselves - 1.2 million people a year are admitted to hospital due to alcohol; liver disease in those under 30 has more than doubled over the past 20 years and the cost of alcohol to the economy totals £21bn.

"Getting political parties to seriously commit to these 10 measures will be a massive step in tackling the huge public health issue that alcohol is."

Jackie Ballard, chief executive of Alcohol Concern told the BBC urgent action was needed to tackle the issue of alcohol misuse.

She said: "Alcohol is related to about sixty different health conditions. People think about liver disease as being caused by alcohol.
They don't think about increased blood pressure, increased risk of strokes, heart attacks, even cancer.

"So we're talking about a major problem. The MPs in this report describe it as a pandemic"

A government spokeswoman said: "We are taking action to reduce excessive alcohol consumption and to give people better information about the impact drinking can have on your health.

"Through our Responsibility Deal, the drinks industry has committed to putting unit and health messages on 80% of all bottles and cans. And we have banned alcohol sales below the level of duty plus VAT to tackle the worst cases of very cheap and harmful alcohol."

For information about this article please visit the BBC News website at; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-28735740