Statement on behalf of Pubs of Ulster regarding health warnings on alcohol packaging

16 July 2012

Following The UK Faculty of Public Health’s comment that alcohol packaging should carry graphic health warnings like those found on cigarettes, Colin Neill, chief executive of Pubs of Ulster said:

“The need to educate people on the dangers of the excessive consumption of alcohol is of paramount importance.  Whilst hard hitting and graphic warnings on products such as cigarettes are appropriate given the harmful effects any level of smoking has on a person’s health, the same cannot be said for alcohol.


“The majority of alcohol products already carry a variety of health warnings outlining the dangers of excessive consumption, calling into question the need for more.  Also, recent figures show that the majority of people already consume alcohol in a sensible manner, with approximately 78% of people drinking within the chief medical officer's guidelines.  It is unlikely that these sensible drinkers want to be faced with graphic images whilst enjoying a glass of wine with their meal.  Whilst The UK Faculty of Public Health may not want be target sensible drinkers, it can be argued that those who consume alcohol in an irresponsible manner will pay little heed to the warnings.  For example, someone buying 2 litres of discount cider is, unfortunately, unlikely to care about any warning on the bottle they are consuming or the long term effects it will have on their health. 


“The need for better education on alcohol is clear.  However, whilst the industry fully supports the need for alcohol education, we believe that this should not come from the back of a bottle.  It is possible that warnings could have little effect on those who consume alcohol irresponsibly but they could have a severe impact on the industry, deterring sensible drinkers from enjoying alcohol through the use of shock tactics.”