The National Consumers League is launching an initiative in the US to challenge what it claims is the "myth" that some alcoholic beverages are less potent than others.

The "Alcohol: How It All Adds Up" campaign aims to dispel the myth that beer and wine are not as strong as the typical cocktail which is often linked with the overconsumption of alcohol and the "permissive attitudes" of some parents about underage drinking, the US consumer organisation said yesterday (15 July).

"Without ready access to information about the amount of alcohol they are consuming, many Americans believe that beer and wine offer a 'soft' option and can be consumed in greater amounts than so-called 'hard' liquor," said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the League. "We are trying to give consumers the basics about the alcohol content of different alcoholic beverages, but the real answer is government action to require standardised and complete labelling information on beer, wine and distilled spirits products.

"Consumers should know how many calories, carbohydrates, and other nutrition information are in a standard drink.  They have it for nonalcoholic beverages, food, and nonprescription drugs.  It is time for this information to be on the labels for alcoholic beverages."

While renewing its calls for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to make information about the alcohol content per serving a requirement on alcohol labels, the League is also launching a new guide that tackles "what constitutes a standard drink".

"It shouldn't take a calculator to know how much alcohol you are consuming," Greenberg adds. "Better labelling is badly needed to tell how many 'standard drinks' are in a particular product. If consumers can tell from the label how many standard drinks they are consuming, they can learn their limits and avoid exceeding them."