Put health warnings on beer and wine labels, say MPs

Group also wants even one pint of beer to put motorists over limit

Whitehall Editor

Cigarette-style health warnings should be put on bottles of wine and cans of beer to alert people to the dangers of drinking too much, MPs will recommend on Monday.

The all-party group on alcohol misuse also called on the Government to reduce the drink-drive limit so even one pint of beer would mean motorists breaking the law.

MPs say the measures are needed to tackle a “national pandemic” of alcohol abuse and say they want the Government to appoint an “alcohol tsar” to oversee the plan.

Until now ministers have preferred a voluntary agreement with the alcohol industry. Last month the Home Office announced producers had agreed to stop making super-strength products in large cans and pubs and bars would promote lower-alcohol products to customers.

But the Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, chairwoman of the all-party group, said more action was needed.

“This is not about hitting those who drink responsibly but dealing with genuine misusers,” she said. “Successive governments have tried to encourage responsible drinking but it is debatable how effective they have been.”

The drink-drive proposals would see a reduction in the limit from 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood to 50mg per 100ml.

The group recommends it is first applied to drivers under the age of 21. This would mean a single pint of strong lager or large glass of wine could put a driver over the limit.

Ms Crouch added: “We have one of the highest alcohol driving limits in the world. We have seen drink-driving accidents increase over the past two years and we want to target younger drivers who are more likely to be involved in a fatal collision.”

The group’s manifesto is being unveiled in the Commons today, together with figures showing alcohol-related harm costs £21bn a year, including hospital admissions and crime. Alcohol is linked to one death every hour.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, the Royal College of Physicians’ special adviser on alcohol and chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said: “This report is a wake-up call for Westminster.”

The proposals come days after Public Health England told people to avoid drinking alcohol two days in a row in order to avoid health conditions such as cancer, heart disease or cirrhosis.

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