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26.10.2016 | Original Article | Ausgabe 2/2017 Open Access

Journal of Public Health 2/2017

Alcohol health warnings can influence the speed of consumption

Journal of Public Health > Ausgabe 2/2017
Lorenzo D. Stafford, Joe Salmon



Recent research has shown that adopting strong (i.e. high fear) visual health-warning messages can increase the perceived health risks and intentions to reduce alcohol consumption. Separately, it is known that the speed at which alcohol is consumed has dramatic effects on the level of intoxication. In the present study we aimed to combine these two separate areas to understand whether the speed of alcohol consumption is influenced by the type of alcohol health warning contained on the beverage.

Subject and methods

In the present study, female participants (N = 45) consumed an alcoholic beverage in a relaxed environment in one of three conditions: no health-warning label, a text-only health-warning label or a pictorial health-warning label with text.


We found that compared with the control condition, the beverage was consumed at a slower rate in the two health-warning conditions, which surprisingly did not differ from each other. Despite these effects, product acceptability did not differ between the text-only and control conditions.


These are the first set of results to demonstrate how the use of strong health warnings on alcoholic beverages can influence actual drinking rate and further suggest that the beneficial effects of slowed consumption are possible in the absence of any reduction in consumer acceptability.

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