Health warnings on bottles, ads to be required for drinks with over 15.5% alcohol

Similar messages for tobacco may be ineffective.

Alcohol 370 (photo credit: Wikicommons)
Alcohol 370
(photo credit: Wikicommons)
The Knesset Economics Committee approved on Tuesday rules that will require printed warnings on bottles of alcohol and advertisements for alcoholic products.
The Health Ministry regulations will go into effect three months after they are published in Reshumot (the gazette of new laws and regulations).
The ministry aimed the health messages at being a warning to individuals – especially young people – not to get drunk and not to drive after drinking. But tobacco products and tobacco advertisements have warnings that they can kill and cause a wide variety of damages to the health of smokers and their loved ones, and the warnings have not been shown to discourage smoking among young people.
A senior ministry official who was not involved in the decision to have warnings and to differentiate between different amounts of alcohol told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that the ministry initiative was useless and possibly harmful.
It may be that labels and warnings stating an excessive amount of alcohol in a specific drink could encourage young people to consume high levels of alcohol just to show off instead of those below the 15.5 percent minimum. The ministry hopes the regulations will lead to parents’ supervising and limiting their adult children’s consumption of alcohol – legal over the age of 18.
Economics Committee chairman Prof. Avishai Braverman said the regulations were aimed at coping with the phenomenon of excessive drinking of alcohol. “The regulations are especially important during the summer vacation when young people are on their own,” he said.
Health Ministry director-general Prof. Ronni Gamzu said the regulations, initiated by Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, were approved by the committee in the previous Knesset but covered the bottles themselves and advertising on radio, TV and other electronic media, and that the ministry had not informed the cable and satellite TV stations.
Advertisements for beverages with at least 15.5% alcohol must post warnings stating that “Excessive consumption of alcohol endangers life and harms health.” The letters must be in black on a white background and cover at least 15% of the surface area of the label.
Newspaper and billboard ads must also present health warnings in addition to those on TV, radio and the Internet.
Print media warnings must cover at least 5% of the surface of each advertisement. On radio, the warnings must be spoken at the same tone as the ad itself.
Natalie Gutman Chen, who is in charge of international commercial agreements in the Economy and Trade Ministry, said there should not have been a differentiation between alcohol contents of below and above 15.5%. In the US and EU, there are warnings about all alcohol, including beer and wine. MK Yitzhak Vakhnin of the committee said this argument had heard, but a different decision was taken.
Gamzu said he would look into this complaint and discuss it with Health Minister Yael German, who would decide if a change should be presented to the committee.