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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 April 2006, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Health warnings for drinks cans
Girl drinking
Ministers are in talks over alcohol labelling
The government is in discussions with the drinks industry about putting warnings on alcohol and in places where it is sold.

Public Health Minister Caroline Flint confirmed the move could cover pubs, off-licences and supermarkets.

She told the BBC Six O'Clock News the warnings, similar to those seen on cigarette packets, could be introduced within two years.

The industry said it fully supported moves to ensure people drank sensibly.

About 80% of beer packaging already carries a message asking people to drink sensibly.

But the new measures could go even further, combining information on units with a message such as "don't do drunk" and potentially warnings about health consequences.

Nobody is saying you can't have a drink, but you know, think about how you're drinking and its consequences
Caroline Flint, public health minister

The idea was first raised in a Public Health White Paper at the end of 2004.

Ms Flint said she believed the drinks industry was "receptive" to the move, adding: "I think it's finding the right sort of warning and obviously it's going to depend on the bottle itself and obviously, as I said, when people receive a drink in a glass you got to have it at the point of sale.

"So I think information about both unit measurements but also about a sensible drinking message is something that the industry are engaging with us and that's important."

On a recent visit to Stockton in the north east, Ms Flint said she came across a beer mat showing the number of units in different drinks.

"So it was there on the bar, people could see that as they were waiting to be served with their drink," she added.


"Nobody is saying you can't have a drink, but you know, think about how you're drinking and its consequences."

The interview comes as the BBC reveals results of a survey of 54 casualty units across the UK.

Of those, 37 said the number of alcohol-related patients they were seeing had increased in the past five years, and 25 departments said they had treated children as young as 11 and 12 for binge drinking.

British Beer and Pub Association spokesman Mark Hastings said the industry had been in talks with government for several months over the introduction of a standardised message to appear on all bottles and cans.

"This is about standardising it across all alcoholic drinks packaging.

"We fully support anything that helps people make better, informed decisions about their drinking to ensure that they don't drink to excess."

See the interview with Health Minister Caroline Flint

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