A cross-sectional study found that young drinkers supported alcohol packaging warning labels, but few actually engaged with the labeling. These findings were published in Drug and Alcohol Review.
Between September and October 2020, a cohort of 1360 current alcohol drinkers were recruited in the United Kingdom using targeted Facebook advertisements. This study comprised an online survey that took 10 minutes to complete. The survey included the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test for Consumption and asked participants about their attitude toward alcohol warning labels.
The study population was aged mean 26.04 (range, 18-35) years, 59.6% were women, 69.7% resided in England, 50.4% did not attend higher education, 71.7% had no religious affiliation, and 80.7% were higher-risk drinkers.
The participants said that they were always (15.7%) or often (20.0%) exposed to warning labels on alcohol packaging, however, few participants said they always (2.2%) or often (6.2%) engaged with the labeling.
More than 75% of the participants agreed or strongly agreed that warning labels should contain information about alcohol by volume, serving units, ingredients, and guidelines about servings. Over half agreed or strongly agreed that warning labels should have information about gender-related guidelines, calories, and health conditions that can result from drinking alcohol.
A regression analysis found that compared with a large-text warning label, small-text warnings were less likely to cause individuals to perceive the product as unappealing or socially unacceptable (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.58; 95% CI, 0.41-0.80; P =.001) and there was no difference for pictorial warning labels (aOR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.68-1.32; P =.743).
After viewing the warning labels, women (aOR, 1.82; 95% CI, 1.41-2.35; P <.001), those with higher education (aOR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.40-2.31; P <.001), and lower-risk drinking (aOR, 1.61; 95% CI, 1.17-2.21; P =.003) were more likely to perceive the product as unappealing or socially unacceptable.
This study was limited by not evaluating optimal message content about what real-world long-term impacts of warning labels have.
The study authors concluded, “This sample of young adult drinkers reported limited engagement with the health information, messages, and warnings on current alcohol packaging and largely supported the inclusion of product and health-related information. Prominent warnings may help to counteract the appeal and social acceptability of alcohol products, encourage consumers to think about their drinking and, potentially, support a reduction in alcohol consumption and related harms.”
Jones D, Moodie C, Purves RI, Fitzgerald N, Crockett R. The role of alcohol packaging as a health communications tool: An online cross-sectional survey and experiment with young adult drinkers in the United Kingdom. Drug Alcohol Rev. Published online April 6, 2022. doi:10.1111/dar.13469