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Should booze carry graphic warning labels like cigarettes do?

Young drunk man drinking in the bar


Would Canadians be less inclined to drink to excess if booze bottles featured graphic warning labels like cigarettes packs do?

The Huffington Post reports on a recent article penned by a health administrator calling for "direct health warnings" on wine, beer and liquor.

Published in the November issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the article by Mohammed al-Hamdani asserts that warning labels could be the best method of driving home the dangers of overimbibing.

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And it's not a new argument. Requests to highlight the health risks of drinking too much have been directed toward the Canadian alcohol industry since the early nineties, which not coincidentally is about the time the United States approved putting warnings on alcohol.

In his article, al-Hamdani suggests that putting cautionary pictures on bottles in the same manner as cigarette packages show the effects of smoking could be a powerful tool in getting people to drink responsibly.

In an interview with the Vancouver radio station News1130, he gave the example of featuring a photograph of a diseased liver on a bottle of alcohol with the message: "Excessive drinking leads to liver cancer."

According to recent World Health Organization data, countries such as Poland, Belgium and Russia currently have such warning labels on alcohol bottles, but the practice is a long way from gaining acceptance in other countries.

But it's a safe bet that the Canadian government may be considering the labels. Warning labels on cigarettes are now a government-enforced policy in more than 60 countries and a recent study by the group Tobacco-Free Kids indicates that the anti-smoking labels are working.

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