Should Alcoholic Beverages Have Cancer Warning Labels?

Fifteen wordsare roiling the global alcohol industry.

Beginning in 2026, containers of beer, wine and liquor sold in Ireland will be required by law to bear a label in red capital letters with two warnings: “THERE IS A DIRECT LINK BETWEEN ALCOHOL AND FATAL CANCERS” and “DRINKING ALCOHOL CAUSES LIVER DISEASE.”

The requirement, signed into law last year, is backed by decades of scientific research and goes much further than any country has thus far communicated the health risks of alcohol consumption. It has sparked fierce opposition from alcohol businesses worldwide, but it is also inspiring a push in some other countries to pursue similar measures.

“It’s an important step,” said Dr. Timothy Naimi, the director of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria. “People who drink should have the right to know basic information about alcohol, just as they do for other food and beverage products.”

In Thailand, the government is in the final stages of drafting a regulation requiring alcohol products to carry graphic images accompanied by text warnings such as “alcoholic beverages can cause cancer,” according to The Bangkok Post.

A bill has been introduced in the Canadian Parliament that would require labels on all alcoholic beverages to communicate a “direct causal link between alcohol consumption and the development of fatal cancers.”

Last week, the Alaska State Legislature held a committee hearing on a bill that would require businesses selling alcohol to post signs carrying a cancer warning.

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