Alcohol cancer labelling advocates unfazed by Yukon threats

Legal threats of the kind which abruptly halted the first trial of cancer warning labels in Canada’s Yukon territory before Christmas are not altering plans elsewhere.

Measures proposed last month in Australia call for “readable, impactful” warning labels. And Gerald Nash, an Irish senator, introduced an amendment to a recent alcohol bill to include cancer warnings.


“Given the strength and level of support expressed in the Senate, I expect that the bill will receive the same level of support when it moves to the Dàil [Ireland’s Lower House],” Nash told Alcohol Companion.

Donal Buggy of the Irish Cancer Society says he is confident, “The public health imperative for inclusion of cancer-specific labelling warnings will prevail over the narrow sectoral interests of the alcohol industry.”

Legal threats are “not an issue” in Australia, says Michael Thorn, head of Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education: “Australia took it up to the tobacco industry on plain packaging and won.”

The initial focus of Thorn’s efforts will be to  secure mandated warning labels on the dangers of drinking while pregnant, paving the way for others. This might happen in the next 18 months, he says.

In Ireland, meanwhile, one seasoned observer suggests public support for the alcohol bill would mean any attempt by the alcohol industry to stand in its way would be a “PR disaster”.

The next phase of alcohol industry resistance there seems more likely to be quibbling about the format and wording of warning labels than whether they appear.

It is currently unclear whether the Yukon trial will restart.