Medical association calls for health warnings on alcohol

December 21, 2015 15:36
Wine should be taxed, and wine bottles should carry health warnings, the HKMA says. Photo: HKEJ

The Hong Kong Medical Association wants new labels on old wine bottles.

Health warnings should be legally required on the packaging of alcoholic products, the HKMA said.

It also called for taxes to be reintroduced on grape wines and beverages with low alcohol content, Headline Daily reported Monday.

The HKMA also suggested banning the sale of alcoholic beverages to teenagers at supermarkets and convenience stores.

It said resuming the taxation of beverages with an alcohol content under 30 percent would help discourage young people from becoming regular drinkers.

The HKMA warned that consumers should not start drinking just because they have heard it could be advantageous to their health.

As for those who have already developed a drinking habit, the HKMA said men should not consume more than two glasses of red wine per day and women should limit their daily intake to just one glass.

World Health Organisation (WHO) figures show 3.3 million deaths each year are caused by alcoholic beverages, making up about 6 percent of the total number of deaths worldwide.

A quarter of deaths among people aged between 20 and 39 are alcohol-related.

The WHO has listed alcohol as a Class 1 carcinogen for humans, alongside tobacco and asbestos, saying it can directly cause mouth, throat and liver cancer.

Pregnant women who drink more than 600 ml of red wine each day could increase the risk of alcohol intoxication of the fetus by 20 percent, which could pose serious damage to brain development.

The HKMA said there is no such thing as a “safe intake amount”, as the risk of cancer will increase even if only a little alcohol is consumed.

It said the Hong Kong government should take a leaf out of the book of its counterparts in the United States and Europe and put warning labels on alcoholic products to encourage consumers to think again before buying them.

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