Read how health warnings about alcohol are used on labels and menus

Alcohol health warning labels in cities

Issue
Restrict or ban alcohol advertising and promotions1,2,3

Action
Implement health warning labels on alcohol productsa

Degree of adoption in 31 Canadian municipalities
Low

Current actions in Canada
Vancouver amended its License By-law in 2017 to require liquor serving establishments to display drink size and strength on their menu for all types of alcoholic drinks.

Local policy toolsb,c

  • Municipal Alcohol Policy (MAP)
  • Sign bylaws
  • Land use and zoning bylaws
  • Business license bylaws

Examples of local actionb,c
Municipalities can strengthen MAPs or introduce other bylaws to require establishments serving or selling alcohol to require signs or menu labelling with health information, such as Low Risk Drinking Guidelines and health risks.

Other bylaws, such as sign or zoning bylaws, municipalities can control the location, size and type of signs that are displayed in front of alcohol establishments and other places.

Alcohol health warning labels in provinces and territories

Issue
Restrict or ban alcohol advertising and promotions1,2,3

Action
Implement health warning labels on alcohol productsa

Degree of adoption in Canada
Low

Current actions in Canada
Adoption of policy action related to implementing health-warning labels on alcohol products is low, and evidence supporting such approaches is still emerging. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regulates alcohol labelling at the federal level, and there is currently no requirement for alcohol products to carry warning messages, nor that warning messages are posted at points-of-sale.

Only the Yukon and Northwest Territories require labels to be affixed to alcoholic beverages that warn consumers about the risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) when alcohol is consumed during pregnancy. In addition, Ontario requires premises licensed to sell or serve liquor to visibly post signs in establishments warning consumers of these risks.

No provinces and territories in Canada have implemented product labels that warn consumers about the impact of consumption on cancer and chronic disease. In late 2017, the Yukon piloted health warning labels on alcoholic beverages. It was part of a research project to understand the impact on awareness and consumption with warning labels that indicate alcohol is a cancer risk factor. This pilot was halted prematurely by alcohol industry pressure on the territorial government.