A recent survey has established that about two thirds of Germans are in favour of health warning labelling on alcoholic beverages.
67% of respondents are in support of being made aware of the risks of alcoholic use through warning labels on alcohol products. Only 22% of all respondents objected to warning labelling.
The survey also found that more women than men supported the health warnings for alcohol.
72% of women who participated in the survey stated that they were in support of warning labelling. However, a slightly lower number of men (63%) expressed their support for being made aware of the health effects of alcohol consumption.
11% of participants did not express an opinion one way or the other.
The new poll also shows that the voters of the current government coalition also support alcohol warning labels.
People who voted for opposition parties, such as the Left and the Christian Democrats, also want to be better informed about the health risks of alcohol.
- Greens: 83% support,
- Social Democrats: 81% support,
- Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU): 68% support,
- Left: 67% support,
- Liberal Democrats: 56%, and
- Right-wing extremists (AfD): 48% support.
Germans Want Better Alcohol Policy
The new survey results confirm previous findings established in a representative survey carried out just earlier this year. It was commissioned by Federal Drug Commissioner Bukhard Blienert. By reflecting how a majority of Germans supported a ban on alcohol advertising, it too confirmed that the people in Germany see a clear need for better alcohol policy.
The “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reported the survey findings, from 1,400 respondents:
- 59% support a complete advertising ban for beer, wine, and schnapps.
- Germans also support labeling requirements similar to those for tobacco.
- 76% are in favor of health hazard warning labels on alcohol advertising.
- 50% of respondents are in favor of higher alcohol taxes.
Germany’s Heavy Alcohol Burden
Germany urgently requires alcohol policy improvements to address the epidemic levels of alcohol-related deaths faced by its people and communities.
In 2017 alone, 21,700 children and youth aged 10 to 20 years were hospitalized due to alcohol poisoning. Alcohol consumption in Germany leads to 20,000 new cancer cases and 8,000 cancer deaths annually, with colorectal cancer, and cancers of the mouth and throat, liver, esophagus, and breast being the most common types.
In addition to alcohol’s health harms, the practices and products of alcohol companies impose significant social and economic costs on German society. Approximately one in 10 crimes are committed under the influence of alcohol, and alcohol is a contributing factor in around 5% of traffic crashes resulting in personal injury.
The harm caused by alcohol results in direct and indirect costs of €57 billion for German society. However, the revenue generated from alcohol taxes amounts to only €3.2 billion, which falls far short of covering the expenses incurred by the alcohol industry’s practices and products.
Gen Z Germans Prefer a Life Set Free From Alcohol
Almost half of German young adults aged 18 to 24 live alcohol-free, according to a YouGov survey conducted in April 2022. The survey, which covered 43 countries and included over 1000 uniformly asked questions, obtained these results from the YouGov Global Profiles data.
Gen Z, the demographic cohort succeeding Millennials and preceding Generation Alpha, typically includes individuals born in the mid to late 1990s and the 2010s, as defined by researchers and popular media.
Regarding alcohol, the respondents answered the question: “To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement? I don’t drink alcohol.” Respondents could agree, disagree or choose neither. In Germany, YouGov collected data from 14,152. The results are representative of the German population over 18 years.
The YouGov analysis included nine other European countries. German youth aged 18 to 24 had a higher rate of alcohol-free living compared to their peers in those countries.
This indicates a clear trend of young Germans being increasingly interested in living alcohol-free and sober curious.
Clearly, in Germany alcohol norms are changing. People want change, more protection from alcohol harm, more government action to inform people, and more environments free from alcohol. It is crucial for the German government to invest in proven alcohol policy solutions.
Other countries make progress towards alcohol health warning labels
The news of broad support for alcohol health warning labeling among people in Germany comes as several other countries are making progress towards introducing health warning labels on alcohol.
In January 2023, Movendi International reported that Norway was one step closer to warning labels on alcohol products. Norway’s Minister of Health and Care Ingvild Kjerkol had asked the Directorate of Health to come up with concrete proposals.
In Canada, Senator Patrick Brazeau had introduced Bill S-254, an Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (warning label on alcoholic beverages), in November 2022, as a measure of preventing alcohol harm in the country. Since the release of the new Canadian low-risk alcohol use guidelines, the momentum for cancer warning labels on alcohol has accelerated considerably. Globally alcohol caused 741,300 cancer deaths in 2020. Despite this, one in four Canadians remain unaware of alcohol’s cancer risk. A growing number of advocates are calling on the Canadian federal government to implement health warning labeling on alcohol products to better inform Canadians and protect people from alcohol harm.
Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health
To reduce the risk of harm from alcohol, it is recommended that people living in Canada consider reducing their alcohol use.
The reasons to do so derive from the following facts:
- There is a continuum of risk associated with weekly alcohol consumption where the risk of harm from alcohol is:
- Low for individuals who consume 2 standard alcoholic drinks or less per week;
- Moderate for those who consume between 3 and 6 standard alcoholic drinks per week; and
- Increasingly high for those who consume 7 standard alcoholic drinks or more per week.
- Consuming more than 2 standard alcoholic drinks per alcohol consumption occasion is associated with an increased risk of harms to self and others, including injuries and violence.
- When pregnant or trying to get pregnant, there is no known safe amount of alcohol use.
- When breastfeeding, not consuming alcohol is safest.
And the country that has received the most media and public attention for their trailblazing effort to implement cancer warning labels on alcohol is Ireland.
Despite heavy industry interference since the proposal was first introduced to the EU, Ireland has finally won the right of its people to have clear and concise warnings about alcohol harm on all alcohol products.
Labels on Alcohol Bottles Increase Awareness of Alcohol Harms, Guidelines
A series of journal articles published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (Volume 81, Issue 2) in March 2020, supports that when alcohol bottles come with conspicuous labels providing information on the risks of alcohol use or alcohol use guidelines, people are better informed about alcohol’s harms and may cut down their alcohol use.
YouGov: “Würden Sie Warnhinweise auf alkoholischen Getränken in Deutschland befürworten oder ablehnen, die über Gesundheitsrisiken durch Alkohol informieren?”