10m bid to dispel alcohol unit myths

08 May, 2008

A 10 million government-funded campaign will hit TV screens later this month in a bid to cut confusion about the units of alcohol in drinks.

The Department of Health is expected to officially launch the adverts later this month. It follows research showing that as the average servings and alcohol content of drinks, particularly wine, has crept up, consumers are unable to accurately manage how much they are consuming.

A spokesman said: "We are not wanting to preach on this issue; instead we are trying to inform and support people to drink sensibly. Most people have heard of units of alcohol and the sensible drinking message, but do not know how to keep a check on the number of units they drink. When asked, especially by GPs or doctors, people report drinking at levels much lower than they actually do.

"For instance, many wines used to be around 9%abv - nowadays the majority can be anything from 12-14%. A standard glass of wine used to be 12.5cl, but it is not unusual for pubs these days to sell wine in 25cl glasses - and glasses in restaurants and many homes are often considerably larger.

"The traditional assumption that one glass of wine is one unit of alcohol is - more often than not - wrong. Nowadays, a glass of wine can be anything from 1.6 units to 3.5 units depending on the size of glass and strength of wine."

This new campaign, which is in the final stages of development, will show the number of units contained in certain drinks along with recommended guidelines.

It will form the latest phase of the government's "Know Your Limits" binge-drinking initiative and dovetails with voluntary efforts by retailers and suppliers to improve awareness of units.

The government said it had agreed to run the campaign in return for a commitment by the industry to put unit and health messages on labels.

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