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Alcohol health warnings to be reinforced

The Health and Welfare Ministry said Thursday that it plans to change the health warnings on alcohol bottles for the first time in 21 years to raise awareness on the health risks of excessive drinking.

The ministry said it will be compulsory for alcohol manufacturers to include specific dangers of drinking for youths and pregnant women in written warnings on alcohol bottles starting September.

The revision to the National Health Promotion Act, which will take effect from Sept. 3, requires alcoholic beverages to carry a label warning pregnant woman and juveniles that drinking can damage an embryo’s health, heighten the risks of birth defects and cause liver-related diseases. 
The Korea Herald
The Korea Herald
As of now, the labels on alcohol packaging only state the alcohol content as well as a general warning saying that drinking is harmful to health.

With the revision, alcohol manufacturers will be required to choose from three types of labels displaying different health risks. The labels read: “Women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects,” “Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery” and “Drinking alcohol can damage young people’s minds and body.”

But the location of the label will not change, the ministry said.

According to the ministry’s comprehensive plan for the period of 2016-2020 to promote mental health, it is also considering making it mandatory for alcohol makers to include specific health warnings in product advertisements in mass media including TV, magazine and newspapers.

It also plans to add specific names of liver-related diseases on alcohol packaging to highlight the severity of excessive drinking and ban the display of alcohol advertisements on public transport and the Internet.

The measure comes shortly after the government passed a revision to make it obligatory for tobacco companies to carry graphic warnings on cigarette packs to deter smoking. It requires pictorial warning labels to cover up more than half of the cigarette packs.

South Korean adults aged 15 or over consume an average of 8.7 liters of alcohol per person a year, a little lower than the average of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development member countries at 8.9 liters, according to 2013 OECD health data.

By Ock Hyun-ju (laeticia.ock@heraldcorp.com)
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