Alcohol should carry similar warnings to tobacco, MPs sayBMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g5130 (Published 12 August 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5130
All rapid responses
Iacobucci rightly stressed that alcohol should carry similar warnings to tobacco.(1)
Only 15 countries mandate warning labels, with various effectiveness.(http://www.icap.org/table/HealthwarningLabels)
In the US the health warning statement is: “GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems” (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/granule/CFR-2012-title27-vol1/CFR-2012-title27-...).
Since 2007, in France the warning can be either a statement “Drinking alcoholic beverages during pregnancy even in small quantities can have grave/serious consequences for the health of the baby” or a symbol “showing a diagonal line being superimposed on an image of a pregnant woman holding a glass” (http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/jopdf/common/jo_pdf.jsp?numJO=0&dateJO=200...). Only the symbol is used because the government did not require a minimal size! Last but not least, the health minister, Roselyne Bachelot, when issuing a new public health law to improve the health-care system through regionalization, specifically allowed alcohol advertising on the Internet, the most used medium by young people, almost nullifying ‘Evin’s law’ issued in 1991 which was not allowing it.(2) In France for the year 2009, the alcohol burden was 49 000 deaths.(3)
1 Iacobucci G. Alcohol should carry similar warnings to tobacco, MPs say. BMJ 2014;349:g5130.
2 Braillon A, Dubois G. Alcohol control policy: evidence-based medicine versus evidence-based marketing. Addiction 2011; 106:852-3.
3 Guérin S, Laplanche A, Dunant A, Hill C. Alcohol-attributable mortality in France. Eur J Public Health 2013;23:588-93
Competing interests: No competing interests
Imagine alcohol was sold over the counter in supermarkets, primarily for its benefits to health. If it was sold like say, paracetamol, we would still want containers to be labelled with easy-to-read warnings about the hazards to individuals from misuse or excessive use. There would be strategies to limit the number of doses sold at one time. Local authority public health interventions might be wise to prevent population harms, say from promoting tablets to children alongside sweets. 
In reality, along the lifecourse, across our British population, alcohol does much more harm than benefit to health. The multiple hazards are most obvious with high doses, but there are also many high risk situations such as pregnancy or driving a car. Effective regulations would reduce the amount vulnerable individuals ingested in any short period, and reduce the overall consumption of our society to safer levels over time. The commercial interests selling alcohol (including links to leisure and tourism sectors) have opposed anything that meant millions of people bought less. But in the face of our "national pandemic"  the only effective measures will be those that:
curtail alcohol marketing (especially to the youngest customers),
shift individual behaviour away from dangerous drinking and
share pertinent knowledge (socially and scientifically) to promote community safety.
 Iacobucci G. Alcohol should carry similar warnings to tobacco, MPs say. BMJ 2014;349:g5130
 Caan W. Paracetamol hepatoxicity. Urgent need for proactive leadership in local suicide prevention plans. BMJ 2013;346:f1529
Competing interests: Involvement over 30 years researching alcohol and health. Advisor to several policy fora including three Parliamentary Groups.