Graphic warning labels on booze could curb alcoholism: B.C. researcher

A British Columbia researcher is calling for graphic warning labels on bottles of alcohol, saying it could help problem drinking.

“The more people drink, the more frequently they see the label, the more likely they remember it, so it’s actually a good medium to getting information to the heaviest drinkers,” says Tim Stockwell, an alcohol researcher at the University of Victoria.

He’s working with a government in Canada to put health labels on boozy beverages.

“At the moment there’s zilch, the’rs nothing, zip. There’s nothing on an alcohol label.”

Stockwell’s comments come as a new study from Saint Mary’s University was published, which says that health warnings on alcoholic products can change people’s perceptions of their health effects.

Lindsay Meredith, a marketing professor at SFU, says it certainly could have an effect in slowing down alcohol use for younger people – but isn’t sure about long-term drinkers.

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“For the established habit people, the folks who have been doing it for a long time, will pictures actually cause behavioural change? I’d want to see some firm evidence,” he says.

The provincial government hasn’t broached the idea with the public, but John Clerides of the B.C. Wine Institute says any move to mandatory labels would be a non-starter with his organization.

“It’s just another layer of government bureaucracy and interference on a growing industry,” he argues.