• Open Access

Alcohol warning labels: unlikely to affect alcohol-related beliefs and behaviours in adolescents


Correspondence to: Dr Kirsty E. Scholes-Balog, School of Psychology, Australian Catholic University, 115 Victoria Pde, Fitzroy, VIC 3065; e-mail: Kirsty.balog@acu.edu.au


Objective: In Australia, many health researchers and policy makers are advocating for mandated warning labels on alcoholic beverages. Alcohol-related harms are of particular concern among adolescents. The aim of this article was to review the available literature and evaluate the impact of alcohol warning labels on adolescent drinking, knowledge and behaviour.

Approach: A systematic review of the literature was conducted. Scholarly databases were searched for relevant research articles. Broad inclusion criteria were applied due to the relative paucity of literature.

Conclusion: The introduction of alcohol warning labels was shown to be associated with initial increased awareness of alcohol warning label law, exposure to the labels, and increased recognition of the warning label messages. Conversely, little change was observed in terms of beliefs about the risks of alcohol use or participation in risky alcohol-related behaviours. These findings are similar to those reported among adult samples. However, the vast majority of the literature originated from the same group of authors, with samples drawn from a single geographical region. This may greatly limit the generalisablity of these findings.

Implications: The introduction of alcohol warning labels in Australia may increase awareness about the risks of alcohol consumption among adolescents; however, these labels appear unlikely to change adolescent drinking behaviours or beliefs about alcohol-related risks. Further research in multiple cultural contexts is required to confirm these findings. Alcohol warning labels should be considered as only one aspect of a range of other proven strategies to change knowledge, attitudes and behaviour.