“Hit the bottle” through improved labelling of alcohol, says East End’s SNP MP

14 Apr 2009

East End MP John Mason has called on the UK Government to support doctors and health professionals by introducing legislation on alcohol labelling.

His call comes in the wake of a report from the British Medical Association detailing the impact of alcohol abuse on health services and comes as evidence from the Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Physicians showed 90% believe alcohol should be labelled with information on units and safe drinking guidelines.

Evidence shows that 10 years after introducing a voluntary code only 3% of products are properly labelled and 43% of alcohol products carry no information at all.

Mr Mason has lodged an Early Day Motion (EDM) in Westminster highlighting the failure of a voluntary code to introduce better labelling on alcohol products and calling for UK legislation.

The measure is supported by the Scottish Government at Holyrood but requires UK Government action.

Mandatory labels on alcohol content are shown to increase awareness of drink driving and the impact of drinking during pregnancy.

The SNP MP for Glasgow East said:

“We need real action to tackle the cost of alcoholic excess and the best way to do that is literally by hitting the bottle with better labelling.

“As the strength of alcohol products has changed and new drinks have come on the market it is increasingly hard to judge how many units are in a product. When it comes to tackling issues of drink driving or alcohol consumption during pregnancy this is vital information that could save lives.

“It is simply unacceptable that 43% of alcohol products do not carry the proper information and only 3% carry all the information they should do.

“While Scotland is leading the way with plans for a range of radical measures including minimum pricing and an end to deep discounting of alcohol in supermarkets to tackle our drinking culture, to reduce excessive drinking and to reduce the enormous cost both to our health and our economy the UK Government must play it’s part.

“There is no more time for delay and excuses and the UK government must grasp this issue and bring in legislation.”


Mr Mason’s Early Day Motion is below:


Mason, John

That this House notes the recent publication of The Human Cost of Alcohol – DoctorsSpeak Out by the British Medical Association Scotland; recognises that those in the medical profession have a far greater understanding than most of the true extent and cost of alcohol misuse in the UK; further notes the range of recommendations made in the report to reduce excessive drinking, including steps to control price and availability and increase awareness of the amount of alcohol in drinks; further notes that, 10 years after the drinks industry introduced a voluntary code of practice for alcoholic labelling, only 3 per cent. of products were found to contain all the information required, and 43 per cent. of products contained no information at all; acknowledges previous research from the USA which found that mandatory labels on alcoholic beverages increased knowledge regarding the risks of drink-driving and drinking during pregnancy; and therefore calls on the Government to introduce legislation to make clear and consistent labelling of alcoholic products a legal requirement.