Labour announces plan to enforce ‘strict’ alcohol labelling in problem drinking crackdown
Drinks firms will be forced to clearly label their products with the health risks of consuming them if Labour wins the next election.
Under “strict” new rules drawn up by the party, drinks would have to clearly have the alcohol content in units displayed on them, alongside nutritional information, pregnancy warnings, and the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines.
It comes as part of a wider move to be unveiled by Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth aimed at addressing alcohol misuse in the UK.
Speaking at Alcohol Change UK's annual conference, he will commit a Labour government to "fully-funding" addiction recovery treatment services.
He will also vow to draw up a national strategy on how to support families and children who are affected by substance misuse.
Mr Ashworth said voluntary guidelines brought in in recent years were “simply not fit for purpose” and said there was “more nutritional information on a carton of milk than a bottle of wine”.
“The industry hasn’t moved at a pace to keep up with consumers’ expectations who want correct and comprehensive information so they can make fully informed choices,” he is expect to say.
“It’s an utter abdication of responsibility for government to task the Chief Medical Officer with updating the guidelines and then not oblige the industry to display this vital information on their products.
“No wonder some ask whether we can rely on an industry to promote public health when it’s not in its commercial interests?
“Excuse the pun, but the industry have been drinking in the last chance saloon for too long.”
The frontbencher, who has spoken openly of growing up with an alcoholic father, will say that those struggling with a drink problem need the “very best care possible”.
He will add that it "makes no sense" for ministers to continue with cuts to services when "every £1 spent on treatment saves the NHS £3.40".
“Confronting the devastating social impact of alcohol is not just a priority of mine for very personal reasons but because 20 people a day die as a direct result of alcohol, and 24,000 a year die where alcohol was a factor," he will add.
“Yet less than 20 per cent of people in need of treatment for alcohol dependence are getting the support needed after years of deep Tory cuts to local alcohol services.
"Since 2013/14, drug and alcohol services have been cut by £162million.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Alcohol consumption overall is falling, and we have been clear that the alcohol industry must reflect the UK Chief Medical Officers' alcohol guidelines on their product labelling.
“However, we are determined to do more to protect people from the harms of excessive consumption and as part of our NHS Long Term Plan, alcohol care teams will be rolled out in hospitals in areas of the country most affected by alcohol misuse.”