Alcohol warning labels not properly enforced

September 1, 2016

SEOUL, Sept. 1 (Yonhap) — More than 8 in 10 alcoholic beverages do not properly carry text-based warnings labels, health authorities said Thursday.

The current public health law requires all alcoholic beverages to carry a label that warns of the health risks of excessive drinking, and the warning should be more than one-tenth the size of the brand label.

According to the Health and Welfare Ministry and the Korean Public Health Association, 81 out of 100 alcohol drinks sold in the local market in 2014 have not properly placed warnings on their bottles.

Despite the violations, health authorities have not properly taken measures as the law does not stipulate the legal punishment for such acts.

“The government should come up with measures against violations of the law requiring warning labels to be placed on alcohol bottles so that alcohol manufacturers will properly use warning labels,” said Cho Sook-hee of the National Assembly Research Service.

The ministry, meanwhile, said it will implement the revision to the law starting in September to highlight the health risks to pregnant women and youths.

The revision, which is to take effect Saturday, requires labels to highlight the increased chances of liver-related ailments and additional serious side effects for pregnant women and teenagers, such as birth defects and lifelong brain damage.

The law also requires warning labels about the dangers of driving or working under the influence of alcohol. Manufacturers can choose from three types of labels, each highlighting different hazards.

The government, however, will not require different positioning of the labels. A state committee earlier this month decided to make tobacco companies place graphic warnings against smoking on the upper part of cigarette packs to make them more visible and striking.