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European Commission Urged To Block Plans For New Health Warnings On Drinks Labels

File image: Rolling News

Health campaigners say there's "urgent" need for the implementation of such labels

The European Commission is being urged to block plans for new health warnings on drinks labels in Ireland.

Cigarette packet style labels are to be introduced by the Department of Health, warning of the direct links between drinking alcohol and some deadly cancers.

However, it's being opposed by drinks makers, who have made a formal complaint to the European Commission.

On the opposing side health campaigners say there's "urgent" need for the implementation of health warning labels on alcohol products  

Implement labelling regulations provided for under the Public Health Alcohol Act (2018) without further delay, experts say amid concern for alcohol-related diseases and conditions.

Health information labels on alcohol products need to be urgently implemented in order that consumers are informed about the risks of consuming alcohol, Alcohol Action Ireland has said ahead of an event to raises awareness about the issue.

In order to reiterate the importance of health warning labels, Alcohol Action Ireland is bringing together experts from the three areas that labelling will address: liver disease, drinking alcohol in pregnancy which can lead to FASD and the alcohol /cancer link. 

AAI CEO Sheila Gilheany commented: “It’s almost 5 years since laws were passed to provide for health information labelling of alcohol product and despite ferocious opposition from global vested interests, the groundbreaking regulations have now been successfully through the EU notification process and are nearing the completion of a similar process with the World Trade Organisation.

"It is no surprise, though, to see reports this week of alcohol industry efforts seeking further delays to the implementation of these regulations by lodging a complaint with the EU Commission. 

"These delaying tactics are part of a well-established playbook from an industry which has sought at every opportunity to delay, dilute and derail the very modest measures within the Public Health Alcohol Act which provides for the labelling regulations," she insisted.

A recently published study in the Lancet found that four harmful commodity industries (tobacco, ultra-processed food, fossil fuel, and alcohol) are responsible for at least a third of global deaths per year. 

Telling people upfront about the risks of consumption of a substance which is widely available from corner stores to supermarkets, is the right thing to do and we commend the Minister for Health’s commitment to upholding consumers’ right to know the risks.” AAI CEO Sheila Gilheany said. 

Speaking ahead of the event, Prof John Ryan, Consultant Hepatologist/Gastroenterologist and General Physician, Beaumont Hospital, Clinical Lead for Hepatology, Honorary Clinical Associate Professor, RCSI said:  “There are high levels of alcohol-related liver disease in Ireland and we are seeing increasing numbers of younger people with the illness.

"Warning labels will go some way to raising awareness that alcohol can cause liver disease and other health issues. For too long the alcohol industry has been the main source of information about its product through its relentless marketing machine. People have a right to know the risks of what they are consuming.” 

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