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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 October, 2004, 13:07 GMT 14:07 UK
Brewer to use beer health labels
Inside of pub
The government wants us to drink less and more slowly
Scottish & Newcastle, the UK's biggest brewer, will put health warnings on its beer cans and bottles from next month.

The firm, which makes Newcastle Brown Ale, Kronenbourg and Foster's, will list the units of alcohol in each.

It will add a message urging drinkers not to exceed "three to four units a day for men, two to three for women".

The move comes as the UK Government targets binge and underage drinking, as well as trying to limit the social and health damage done by alcohol abuse.

Confirming a report in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Scottish & Newcastle said that it was a responsible company behaving in a responsible way.

The labels are not required by current UK legislation, but are expected to be adopted by other brewers, the paper said.

Shock tactics?

Coors, which produces Grolsch and Carling, said it has launched a similar scheme and will have the warnings, or "responsibility strap lines" as it prefers to call them, on new cans within a few weeks.

Scottish & Newcastle will start by putting the messages on bottles and cans of Newcastle Brown Ale, later extending them to other products.

Group of young people on holiday
When does having a drink and a laugh become a problem?

Smokers have long been used to health warnings on their cigarette packets and the stark reminders have been credited with getting many people to give up.

Alcohol has come into focus in recent months, with the government and drinks industry joining forces to try to stop what many people see as an epidemic of heavy boozing.

"In partnership we can achieve more," said Paul Hegarty, a spokesman for Coors. "A big brand like Carling can talk to drinkers" in a way the government cannot.

The UK has one of the highest rates of underage drinking in the world and a 20bn annual bill for alcohol misuse.

There has been increasing pressure on the industry to promote a more responsible attitude to booze, with some critics saying that pubs and clubs should be held responsible for the state of their patrons.

The Stars Club in Weston-super-Mare was recently criticised for offering beers and spirits for 1p on Friday and Saturday nights.

A survey for the BBC found last month that people wanted the legal age limit for buying alcohol enforced more rigorously.

It also discovered that nearly 80% of those questioned wanted more safe drinking campaigns.

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