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Alcoholic Drinks

Volume 476: debated on Tuesday 20 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to raise public awareness of the size of alcohol units in relation to standard measures served; and whether his Department has undertaken research to discover levels of public awareness of appropriate levels of alcohol consumption. (204901)

On 19 May, the Government launched the first major advertising campaign to raise awareness about units and to help people to estimate how much alcohol they drink. The Government will spend £10 million this year on national alcohol campaigns.

The units strand of the Know Your Limits campaign includes a series of adverts on television, radio, billboards and press. A new online calculator can be downloaded to help people add up the units in their drinks. There are free materials, including posters and leaflets.

The inclusion of unit content and sensible drinking advice on most drinks labels by the end of 2008, by agreement with the alcohol industry, will also raise awareness of units and health risks.

The “Drinking: adults’ behaviour and knowledge in 2007” report is based on information collected by the Office for National Statistics Omnibus survey covering adults in the United Kingdom. The latest report published in January is the seventh in a series and includes information on peoples’ knowledge of alcohol units and benchmarks (the sensible drinking guidelines on regular daily intake), their awareness of unit labelling, what people drink, where and with whom and whether they had discussed drinking with a medical professional.

The report found that in Great Britain in 2007, 85 per cent. of adults had heard of measuring alcohol consumption in units, compared with 79 per cent. in 1997. It also found that there has been an increase from 54 per cent. in 1997 to 69 per cent. in 2007 in the proportion of adults who had heard of the sensible drinking guidelines on regular daily intake. In 2007, around 40 per cent. of these adults did not know what the benchmarks were.

The Government commissioned a YouGov poll to inform the new alcohol units campaign described above. The YouGov poll shows that the majority of men (78 per cent.) and women (76 per cent.) do not know how many units are in a large glass of wine and that 56 per cent. of men and 60 per cent. of women do not know how many units are in a double gin and tonic.