Alcohol Products to Carry Health Warnings

YERUSHALAYIM -

The Knesset is taking aim at the now-widespread problem of alcoholism, once virtually non-existent in Israel.

The Economics Committee approved a Health Ministry proposal on Tuesday to require printed warnings on bottles of alcohol and advertisements for alcoholic products.

The cautionary messages are targeted at young people especially — not to get drunk and not to drive after drinking.

Advertisements for beverages with 15.5% alcohol or more must carry labels stating that “Excessive consumption of alcohol endangers life and harms health.” The letters must be in black on a white background and cover at least 15% of the surface area of the label.

Not everyone at the ministry is on board with the idea. A senior ministry official who was not involved in the decision told The Jerusalem Post that the initiative was useless and possibly harmful.

The warnings, which specify an excessive amount of alcohol in a specific drink, could actually have the opposite effect, of enticing young people to drink more, the official argued.

Natalie Gutman Chen, who is in charge of international commercial agreements in the Economy and Trade Ministry, agreed that label warnings should not differentiate between alcohol contents of below and above 15.5%. In the U.S. and EU, there are warnings about all alcohol, including beer and wine, which contain less than that amount of alcohol.

Health Ministry director-general Prof. Ronni Gamzu said he would review this issue with Health Minister Yael German.