Warning labels on alcohol bottles

Totally useless and potentially harmful

Bill C-206 was a private member’s bill introduced in the House of Commons to amend the Food and Drugs Act and require warning labels on alcohol beverages. In its brief, Éduc’alcool presented scientific arguments against the proposed amendment. Its conclusions were very clear.

When combined with other tools and information methods, warning labels can be effective in increasing awareness of the message among certain consumers, but they are NOT effective in changing behaviours or reducing the amount people drink. Moreover, they are completely ineffective in reaching the heaviest drinkers, i.e. the primary target group.

Studies have confirmed the uselessness of warning labels on bottles. At the very most, the research allows that labels may be an information tool, but it is the least effective of all such tools. And that’s not all.

Warning labels can be unnecessarily alarming and increase levels of stress and anxiety. Some researchers even believe that it could provoke a kind of moral panic in society.

Warning labels are not a solution, since they merely serve to over-dramatize the problem; and that could lead drinkers to refute the information, which is not in keeping with what they themselves have experienced.

Also, labelling all bottles without exception creates a false sentiment that the problem has been dealt with, which is obviously not the case. Not only will consumers stop seeing the labels, they are likely even to scoff at them.

Sadly, this ineffective and useless measure may be nothing more than a pretext for relieving authorities of the need to invest in measures that actually work.

In the United States, warning labels serve more to protect the American alcoholic beverage industry than to inform consumers.

Learn more about the memoire (French only).