The Directorate of Health has now been instructed by Minister of Health and Care Ingvild Kjerkol to consider how alcoholic beverages can be labelled with warnings about health risks. The directorate has received the specific task in a new assignment letter from the Ministry of Health and Care.
This is the next step in a process that Movendi International has contributed to and reported about previously.
In January 2022, the Norwegian government released the new Alcohol Strategy. It will be in place till 2025 and includes the WHO global target of a 10% reduction of population-level alcohol use by 2025 in Norway. The new strategy maintains focus on the proven alcohol policy best buys in Norway, including the commitment to protect the Norwegian alcohol retail monopoly.
And in April 2022, the Norwegian government’s Health Directorate published its recommendation for labeling alcoholic products with a health warning, especially concerning cancer and cardiovascular disease. The Directorate had examined the policy solution of alcohol warning labels since July 2021. This process concluded with the Directorate delivering its letter of recommendation to the Ministry of Health and Care Services.
In the letter that comprised more than 30 pages, the Norwegian Directorate of Health emphasized that warning labeling can be an important tool for increasing the population’s knowledge about possible health damage from alcohol use. The health experts pointed out that the health risk particularly applies to the link between alcohol use and cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends such a label, and the matter has been worked on for a long time in the EU and is an on-going process with Ireland progressing towards an alcohol health warning label. This is also the reason why the alcohol industry in general and the wine producers in Italy and Germany in particular have tried to stop such a proposal.
The Norwegian Directorate of Health is now being told by the ministry to follow up on the report from last year and “consider practical solutions for introducing warning labels for alcoholic beverages”.
This involves, among other things, assessing what may be suitable and relevant warning labels in Norway, including the content and design of the label,” writes the Ministry of Health and Care in the letter, according to Altinget reporting.Ministry of Health and Care letter
The ministry expects to receive a “note with assessments and proposals for solutions for warning marking”, as per Altinget.
Population is largely unaware of the cancer due to alcohol
The background for the Norwegian Directorate of Health’s effort to label alcohol with a warning is that a large proportion of the population is not aware of the connection between more alcohol use and cancer.
Divisional director for public health and prevention, Linda Granlund, stated the following about this to NRK in April last year:
We now know that there is no lower safe limit, and that increased alcohol intake increases the risk of disease, and especially the risk of cancer”.Linda Granlund, Divisional director for public health and prevention, Norwegian Directorate of Health
Special Feature: Alcohol Warning Labelling, How it works and why it’s needed
In September 2023, Movendi International also published a Special Alcohol Issues Feature on alcohol warning labelling, exploring how it works and why it is needed. The Special Feature compiles state of the art evidence and best practices. It also includes the briefing Movendi International developed to help inform the Norwegian process.