Letter 18 July 2020

NZABC’s Bridget MacDonald responds to  The Dominion Post on pregnancy warning labels.

Dear Editor,

The alcohol industry strongly supports the message that pregnant women, or women thinking of becoming pregnant, should not drink. We’ve been advocating this for years through voluntarily labelling our products with warning messages, contributing $11.5m to the Health Promotion Agency, and our own No Alcohol Means No Risk campaign.

However, a recent editorial ‘Let’s label liquor industry stalling tactics correctly’ (14 July 2020) ignores the fact that the majority of products in NZ are already labelled and that we support a consistent labelling standard across Australasia.

The real issue is that labels by themselves don’t work. Government research shows only 5% of people recalled pregnancy warning labels without prompting. Labels must be part of a wider programme to change behaviours of at-risk women.

NZ also has high awareness (96%) that drinking while pregnant is not recommended. So, how do we connect with the ‘4%’ who wouldn’t stop drinking if they were pregnant? Changing behaviours needs to be more than merely providing on-label advice.

Everyone has a role to play – Government, healthcare, education, communities, individuals, producers and the wider hospitality industry. We urge policymakers to take an all-of-society approach so that policy targets those who need it most.