Brands reluctant to put warning on labels

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 May, 2009, 12:00am

Warning slogans like 'Don't drink and drive' may not appear on beer and liquor bottles after all, but breweries and producers of other alcoholic drinks have promised to come up with more interesting and effective proposals in about two weeks.

The Beer Coalition and Hong Kong Wine and Spirits Industry Coalition have been meeting since February to look into ways that they can help educate the public against drink-driving.

Warning slogans on labels was one of the suggestions. But a source close to the meeting said there could be more effective ways to handle the issue.

'Labelling is a policy issue,' he said. 'It not only takes time but it involves almost every party in the production line. It is counter-effective.'

The source explained that the message should be targeted at those who drive, but not the general public.

Another source agreed. 'There are many clever ways to achieve a purpose; printing slogans on the bottle is a simple approach, but is it really so effective? What if the drinkers don't drink from a bottle but from a glass.'

The first source said there were many ways to get the message out, such as putting slogans on taxis, or providing public transport information prominently in bars and restaurants.

The Beer Coalition said major alcohol brands would meet again later this month and were expected to come up with plans on a publicity campaign to be launched around August.

In the past few months, a nightclub and a car owners' group introduced driving services for their customers and members. But the scope of the service was limited, and it could be costly and have implications for insurance.

Communities overseas have come up with many innovative campaigns against drink-driving. Some bars, for example, offer free food and non-alcoholic drinks to a designated person among a group of drinkers if he agrees to drive them home.