Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

The impact of more visible standard drink labelling on youth alcohol consumption: Helping young people drink (ir)responsibly?

My thanks to Hajra Mir, of Alcohol Concern, for bringing my attention to this Australian research about the impact of drink labelling on young people’s drinking habits suggests that there may be unintended consequences to standardisation:

In response to increasing concerns about excessive drinking among young people the Australian alcohol industry announced that it will introduce more visible standard drink labels. This study sought to examine whether young people use this information in a way that decreases, or increases, alcohol-related harms.

Design and Methods. Six focus groups with students enrolled in an undergraduate university course in a large regional city in New South Wales, recruited by direct approach on the university grounds and via an online message posted on the university bulletin board.

Results: The majority of the participants reported that they are aware of the existence of standard drink labelling; notice standard drink labels; and take these into account when choosing what to purchase. However, this was predominantly to help them choose the strongest drinks for the lowest cost.

Discussion and Conclusions. This study provides initial evidence to support the view that standard drink labelling, in isolation of other modifications to product packaging and marketing, is likely to serve to further increase heavy drinking among young people.

Interestingly this research seems to be somewhat at odds with the way that young people view tobacco branding, where as Packaging News reported:

When asked to compare plain versions of packs, where only the brand name was present on a brown or white background, participants were “more likely to indicate there were no differences between the risks of these brands”. “Certainly young people are three to four times as likely to report a preference for a branded pack,”

Filed under: alcohol, research

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