Campaigners say health warnings on alcohol would help combat drink problems in Sunderland

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CAMPAIGNERS today said that putting health warnings on alcohol will be a huge help in combating excessive drinking on Wearside.

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

It wants political parties to sign up to 10 recommendations to minimise alcohol-related problems – including cutting the drink-drive limit.

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.”

Alcohol abuse costs Sunderland’s economy about £50million annually.

North-East alcohol office, Balance, which continues to call for a minimum unit price of 50p per unit on booze to be imposed, has welcomed the development.

Balance’s partnerships manager, Sue Taylor, said: “Here in the North East, we suffer from some of the worst levels of alcohol harms.

“We have the highest rate of admissions to hospital with alcohol-related conditions and the highest rate of under 18s admitted to hospital with alcohol-specific conditions. And it’s not just our health that’s suffering, with alcohol misuse costing the North-East economy around £1.1billion each year.

“We need all parties to act and show a commitment to the measures highlighted.

“It’s also time to stand up to the alcohol industry and tackle the price, promotion and availability of alcohol.”

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 per cent 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.”