january 2022

How health warning labels on wine and vodka bottles influence perceived risk, rejection, and acceptance

BACKGROUND: Wine consumption has a particular place in the culture of many European countries, and beliefs that wine offers health benefits are widespread. High consumption of wine and other alcoholic beverages among many Europeans correlates with alcohol-related accidents and disease burdens. Health warning labels (HWLs) on alcohol containers have been increasingly recommended to deter consumers from drinking. However, findings on the impact of HWLs on consumers' behavior have been mixed. Moreover, many European consumers have been found to reject the use of warning labels as a policy intervention, especially for wine, perhaps due to its cultural and economic importance.

METHODS: An online study with a between-subjects design was conducted in Switzerland (N = 506) to assess whether HWLs can influence the perceived risk associated with drinking wine and vodka, a beverage insignificant to Swiss culture. Participants were presented an image of either a wine or vodka bottle with or without an HWL presenting a liver cancer warning statement. They were then asked to indicate their perceived risk of regularly consuming the depicted beverage. Acceptance and rejection of HWLs were also assessed.

RESULTS: The perceived risk of vodka consumption exceeded the corresponding risk for wine but was unaffected by an HWL. Perceived health benefits were the main, negative predictor of perceived consumption risk. Participants mainly rejected HWLs due to their perceived effectiveness, perceived positive health effects, social norms, and individualistic values.

CONCLUSIONS: Perceived risk is an important determinant of drinking behavior, and our results suggest that HWLs may be unable to alter risk perceptions. Furthermore, a strong belief in the health benefits of alcohol consumption, particularly wine consumption, reduce risk perceptions and may be unaffected by HWLs.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Staub C.; Siegrist M.
  • Issue

    BMC Public Health. 2022; 22: 157
  • Published Date

    january 2022