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Ministers vote for effective pregnancy warning labels

Ministers vote for effective pregnancy warning labels on all alcohol products

Alcohol Healthwatch media release 11 October 2018

The wellbeing of future generations of Kiwi and Australian children has finally been placed ahead of alcohol industry profits following a decision on alcohol and pregnancy warning labels in Australia.

The group of Australian and New Zealand Ministers voted in favour of requiring all alcohol products sold in both countries to have an evidence-based alcohol and pregnancy warning label.

Alcohol Healthwatch’s Health Promotion Advisor Christine Rogan is thrilled with the decision.

“After decades of this fight, we are glad to see that the wellbeing of children has come first. This is a product that can damage brain development during pregnancy and there is simply no rational reason to exempt any product that can do that from carrying an effective government-mandated warning.

“The decision is important for informing the public and for supporting all the other steps we are taking to reduce the serious harms caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy.”

The decision comes seven years after Ministers opted against regulation and agreed to allow alcohol companies to voluntarily add their own warning labels to products. However, uptake of labelling over the years has been shown to be low, particularly in Australia, where many products contain no warning label. Of the products that do have warning labels, it has been found to be ambiguous, inconsistent and practically invisible.

“These inconsistencies particularly related to the products designed to appeal to young women such a wine and spirit-based ready to drink beverages, some of which have a high alcohol content. The Ministers’ decision will achieve the consistency that has been missing from the voluntary approach,” Ms Rogan says.

Executive Director of Alcohol Healthwatch Dr Nicki Jackson said, “Every year in New Zealand, between 650 and 3000 babies are born with brain damage caused by prenatal alcohol exposure.

“Many of these children have life-long neurodisabilities – often resulting in over-representation in rates of school dropout, suicide, and criminal offending. We strongly endorse the decision to give every New Zealander and Australian the right to know about the serious harms caused by prenatal alcohol exposure.”

ENDS

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