CSPI Alcohol Labeling Study
Final Results

Results of a nationally representative 10-15 minute telephone poll conducted among 801 U.S. residents 21 years of age and older. The study was conducted for CSPI by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates. Margin of error is +/- 3.5% at the 95th percentile confidence interval level.

Abbreviations used are as follows:

  • All (all 801 respondents),

  • M (male),

  • F (female),

  • DRINK (drink alcohol),

  • NO DRINK (do not drink alcohol).


Table of Contents

  1. Awareness, Knowledge and Usage of the Health Warning Statement 2

  2. Attitudes Toward the Health Warning Statement (Agree/Disagree Questions) 9

  3. Effectiveness of Possible Changes to Health Warning Statement 11

  4. Actual Wording of Questions 14

Notes:

  • The number in parenthesis under the column heading is the number of respondents.

  • The numbers that appear as whole numbers within the columns are actually percentages.


1. Awareness, Knowledge and Usage of Health Warning Statement

(1) As far as you know, does the law require that a health warning statement appear on the labels of all alcoholic beverages sold in the U.S., including beer, liquor, wine, wine coolers and hard lemonades?

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

Yes

65

68

61

72

54

No

15

13

17

14

17

Don’t know

20

19

22

14

29

 

(2) When you purchase or drink beer, wine or liquor, do you look for or seek out the health warning statement on alcohol beverage containers and, if so, do you do so every single time, frequently, sometimes, or seldom?

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

No

59

67

52

62

55

Yes, every time

2

0

4

2

2

Yes, frequently

1

1

0

1

1

Yes, sometimes

4

3

6

6

1

Yes, seldom

20

15

25

24

14

Other

7

8

7

4

12

Don’t know

7

6

6

1

15

 

(3) Generally speaking, would you say that you usually notice the health warning statement on alcohol beverage containers?

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

Yes

32

31

33

34

29

No

62

67

57

63

60

Don’t know

6

3

10

3

11

 

(4) Would you say that you notice the health warning statement on alcohol beverage bottle and cans…

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

All of the time

7

7

8

7

7

Most of the time

10

5

14

11

8

Some of the time

27

35

19

30

22

Rarely

19

21

17

21

16

Never

34

31

38

31

39

Don’t know

3

1

4

0

8

 

(5) Have you ever read the entire wording of the health warning statement?

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

Yes

47

55

40

54

37

No

49

44

54

45

56

Don’t know

4

1

6

1

7

 

(6) How familiar would you say you are with the information contained in the alcohol health warning statement…

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

Very familiar

17

19

16

21

11

Somewhat familiar

33

39

28

37

27

Not very familiar

15

13

17

16

14

Not at all familiar

34

28

38

26

45

Don’t know

1

1

1

0

3

 

(7) Tell me everything you can recall about what the health warning statement says. MULTIPLE RESPONSES TO EQUAL > 100%

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

Says women should not drink during pregnancy

50

55

44

55

42

Don’t recall anything

24

25

24

21

29

Consumption impairs your ability to drive a car

20

23

17

24

14

Consumption may cause health problems

16

19

13

17

14

Don’t know

13

11

16

9

19

Mentions Surgeon General

11

16

6

13

8

Consumption impairs your ability to operate machinery

11

16

7

12

9

Other

4

3

4

4

4

It says government warning

3

4

3

4

1

 

(8) What is specifically mentioned on the warning label as being at risk because of the consumption of alcoholic beverages? MULTIPLE RESPONSES TO EQUAL > 100%

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

Don’t know

42

44

40

39

47

Women who are pregnant

40

45

35

44

34

The unborn or the fetus

8

5

10

6

11

Other

5

4

6

5

5

Women

3

0

6

3

3

New born infant

3

3

4

4

1

Something, not sure what

2

3

1

1

4

No person mentioned

2

0

4

1

4

 

(9) Does the warning label specifically warn any type of person not to drink alcoholic beverages at all and, if so, who is that person? MULTIPLE RESPONSES TO EQUAL > 100%

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

Women who are pregnant

53

53

54

60

42

Don’t know

31

33

28

25

40

Yes, but persons/things not on label

7

4

10

6

9

No person mentioned

7

5

9

7

7

Yes, but don’t know which person

3

3

3

2

5

Women

2

1

2

2

2

 

(10) According to the warning label, what does the consumption of alcohol impair a person’s ability to do? MULTIPLE RESPONSES TO EQUAL > 100%

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

Drive a car

64

67

61

69

56

Operate machinery

31

39

24

33

28

Don’t know

14

12

17

13

16

Other

10

7

13

8

13

Cause health problems

9

9

10

8

11

Have children without birth defects

8

7

9

7

10

 

(11) Who is cited on the warning label as an authoritative source on the risks of alcohol consumption?

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

Surgeon General

54

63

46

58

48

Other

7

5

9

9

4

Don’t know

39

32

45

33

48

 

(12) What are the first 2 words of the health warning label?

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

Government Warning

24

23

25

26

21

Other – (incorrect)

11

11

11

11

11

Don’t know

65

66

64

63

68

 

(13) What is the total number of words in the health warning statement?

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

Mean response (not including don’t know)

5.3

4.4

6.1

7.1

2.9

 

(14) Do you sometimes find the health warning statement on alcohol beverages difficult to read?

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

Yes

22

16

27

22

22

No

57

65

49

62

49

Don’t know

21

19

24

16

29

 

(15) AMONG THOSE WHO SAID YES: Would you say that is it is very difficult or somewhat difficult to read?

ALL
(175)

M
(62)

F
(113)

DRINK
(107)

NO DRINK
(68)

Very difficult

40

42

39

38

43

Somewhat difficult

52

42

58

54

49

Don’t know

8

16

3

8

8

 

(16) AMONG THOSE WHO SAID YES: Please tell me in your own words why the health warning statement can be difficult to read. OPEN END RESPONSE

ALL
(175)

M
(62)

F
(113)

DRINK
(107)

NO DRINK
(68)

Words are too small

64

58

68

58

73

Location on the label

10

17

6

13

5

 

(17) Do you sometimes find the health warning statement on alcohol beverages difficult to notice?

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

Yes

44

37

50

48

38

No

40

47

34

44

34

Don’t know

16

16

16

8

28

 

(18) AMONG THOSE WHO SAID YES: Would you say that is it is very difficult or somewhat difficult to NOTICE?

ALL
(351)

M
(142)

F
(209)

DRINK
(233)

NO DRINK
(118)

Very difficult

38

36

40

37

40

Somewhat difficult

55

57

53

56

51

Don’t know

7

7

7

7

9

 

(19) Please tell me in your own words why the health warning statement can be difficult to notice. OPEN END RESPONSES – CAN ADD UP TO MORE THAN 100%

ALL
(351)

M
(142)

F
(209)

DRINK
(233)

NO DRINK
(118)

The size/it’s too small

30

39

23

28

33

No particular reason – simply not noticeable

19

18

19

19

19

Label located in a place that is not noticeable/hidden/out of sight

16

19

21

20

14

The colors blend it with the bottle/background

10

8

12

9

11

Don’t look for it

8

4

11

7

10

I can’t find it even if I look for it

5

7

4

4

7

Included on the label with the alcohol’s ingredients, which people do not read

4

4

4

4

4

 

(20) Do you think that health warning labels are located on containers in a conspicuous and prominent place…

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

All of the time

20

27

14

25

12

Some of the time

31

35

28

33

28

Not very often

16

15

18

15

18

Hardly ever

23

17

28

25

21

Don’t know

10

6

12

2

21

 

(21) Do you think that health warning labels appear with a contrasting background that makes them stand out and makes them easy to read all of the time, some of the time, not very often or hardly ever?

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

All of the time

18

24

12

21

13

Some of the time

26

20

31

24

29

Not very often

19

23

15

19

19

Hardly ever

30

27

33

33

25

Don’t know

7

6

9

3

14

 

(22) Do you think that the words on health warning labels are clearly legible or readable under ordinary conditions all of the time, some of the time, not very often or hardly ever?

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

All of the time

34

41

27

40

25

Some of the time

35

36

33

34

37

Not very often

13

9

16

13

13

Hardly ever

11

9

13

11

11

Don’t know

7

5

11

2

14

 

(23) What changes do you think could be made to make the health warning labels more noticeable and easier to read? OPEN END RESPONSE - CAN ADD UP TO MORE THAN 100%

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

Use bigger and bolder type

21

12

29

22

19

Don’t know

16

16

16

12

23

Use contrasting or brighter colors

16

15

16

21

8

Make warning bigger

12

8

13

7

20

Put it in a more noticeable place

11

16

6

12

9

Make it more clear

2

3

1

2

2

Put a symbol or a picture

1

1

1

1

1


2. Attitudes Toward the Health Warning Statement (Agree/Disagree Questions)

I am going to read a list of statements. Please tell me whether you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with each.

(24) A warning message printed in all capital letters is more difficult to read than a message printed in upper and lower case characters.

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

AGREE (NET)

46

44

49

49

41

Strongly Agree

26

20

32

29

22

Somewhat agree

20

24

17

20

21

Somewhat disagree

19

24

14

17

23

Strongly disagree

29

25

32

31

26

Don’t know/no answer

6

7

5

3

8

 

(25) More people would be aware of what the warning message stated if it was easier to read.

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

AGREE (NET)

74

68

80

71

79

Strongly Agree

48

40

56

45

53

Somewhat agree

26

28

24

26

26

Somewhat disagree

6

5

7

8

3

Strongly disagree

16

24

9

18

13

Don’t know/no answer

4

3

4

3

5

 

(26) Health warning labels sometimes appear in the least prominent place on bottles and cans and this makes them difficult to notice and read.

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

AGREE (NET)

74

68

78

74

74

Strongly Agree

46

35

56

42

52

Somewhat agree

28

33

23

31

22

Somewhat disagree

7

11

4

8

5

Strongly disagree

14

17

11

17

9

Don’t know/no answer

5

4

6

2

12

 

(27) Warning messages often appear on a background color that makes them hard to read.

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

AGREE (NET)

64

57

71

65

62

Strongly Agree

38

33

43

38

38

Somewhat agree

26

24

28

27

24

Somewhat disagree

10

12

8

12

7

Strongly disagree

15

20

11

18

10

Don’t know/no answer

11

11

10

5

21

 

(28) Warning labels would be more visible and readable if the government was actually serious about people noticing them.

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

AGREE (NET)

72

67

66

66

78

Strongly Agree

51

47

55

46

57

Somewhat agree

21

20

21

20

21

Somewhat disagree

10

13

6

12

7

Strongly disagree

17

19

15

21

11

Don’t know/no answer

2

1

3

1

4


3. Effectiveness of Possible Changes to Health Warning Statement to Make Them More Noticeable and Readable

I am going to read a list of possible changes to the health warning statement that appears on alcohol beverages. Please tell me whether you think each would be a very effective, a somewhat effective, a not very effective or a not at all effective method to make warning labels more noticeable and readable.

(29) Placing the warning label in a prominent place on the front of all alcohol beverage bottles and cans.

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

EFFECTIVE (NET)

82

82

82

84

79

Very effective

56

55

57

53

61

Somewhat effective

26

27

25

31

18

Not very effective

8

10

6

8

8

Not at all effective

7

5

8

8

5

Don’t know/no answer

3

3

4

0

8

 

(30) Having the warning label printed horizontally or across as opposed to vertically or up and down.

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

EFFECTIVE (NET)

65

65

65

63

68

Very effective

30

25

34

26

36

Somewhat effective

35

40

31

37

32

Not very effective

13

15

11

15

10

Not at all effective

16

15

17

19

11

Don’t know/no answer

6

5

7

3

11

 

(31) Placing the warning message in the same relative position on all bottle and cans.

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

EFFECTIVE (NET)

76

73

78

78

73

Very effective

49

49

49

48

51

Somewhat effective

27

24

29

30

22

Not very effective

13

15

11

13

13

Not at all effective

7

8

7

8

5

Don’t know/no answer

4

4

4

1

9

 

(32) Requiring that government warning, the first two words of the health warning statement, appear in capital letters and bold face type larger than the remaining text of the label.

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

EFFECTIVE (NET)

77

68

86

75

80

Very effective

40

32

48

38

43

Somewhat effective

37

36

38

37

37

Not very effective

11

19

4

14

6

Not at all effective

9

10

7

10

8

Don’t know/no answer

3

3

3

1

6

 

(33) Having warning labels printed in red or black type on a white background and surrounded by a lined border.

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

EFFECTIVE (NET)

87

81

91

88

83

Very effective

54

48

59

53

54

Somewhat effective

33

33

32

35

29

Not very effective

5

8

2

6

3

Not at all effective

5

8

3

6

6

Don’t know/no answer

3

3

4

0

8

 

(34) Requiring that the warning labels contain a red pictorial device or icon, such as a triangle with an exclamation mark inside, that would attract the consumer’s attention.

ALL
(801)

M
(384)

F
(417)

DRINK
(488)

NO DRINK
(313)

EFFECTIVE (NET)

79

73

83

80

77

Very effective

38

25

49

36

41

Somewhat effective

41

48

34

44

36

Not very effective

10

12

8

11

8

Not at all effective

7

11

5

8

6

Don’t know/no answer

4

4

4

1

9


ACTUAL WORDING OF QUESTIONS

I am going to ask you some questions about labels on alcoholic beverages.

1. As far as you know, does the law require that a health warning statement appear on the labels of all alcoholic beverages sold in the U.S., including beer, liquor, wine, wine coolers and hard lemonades?

2. When you purchase or drink beer, wine or liquor, do you look for or seek out the health warning statement on alcohol beverage containers and, if so, do you do so every single time, frequently, sometimes, or seldom?

3. Generally speaking, would you say that you usually notice the health warning statement on alcohol beverage containers?

4. Would you say that you notice the health warning statement on alcohol beverage bottle and cans all of the time, most of the time, some of the time, rarely or never?

5. Have you ever read the entire wording of the health warning statement?

6. How familiar would you say you are with the information contained in the alcohol health warning statement: very familiar, somewhat familiar, not very familiar or not at all familiar?

7. Tell me everything you can recall about what the health warning statement says.

8. What is specifically mentioned on the warning label as being at risk because of the consumption of alcoholic beverages?

9. Does the warning label specifically warn any type of person not to drink alcoholic beverages at all and, if so, who is that person?

10. According to the warning label, what does the consumption of alcohol impair a person’s ability to do?

11. Who is cited on the warning label as an authoritative source on the risks of alcohol consumption?

12. What are the first 2 words of the health warning label?

13. What is the total number of words in the health warning statement?

14. Do you sometimes find the health warning statement on alcohol beverages difficult to read?

15. IF YES: Would you say that is it is very difficult or somewhat difficult to read?

16. IF YES: Please tell me in your own words why the health warning statement can be difficult to read.

17. Do you sometimes find the health warning statement on alcohol beverages difficult to notice?

18. IF YES: Would you say that is it is very difficult or somewhat difficult to notice?

19. IF YES: Please tell me in your own words why the health warning statement can be difficult to notice.

I am going to ask you about requirements related to the health warning label on alcohol beverage containers. In answering, please think about your exposure to health warning labels on all alcohol beverage containers, such as beer cans and bottles, wine bottles, liquor bottles and other alcohol containers.

20. Do you think that health warning labels are located on containers in a conspicuous and prominent place all of the time, some of the time, not very often or hardly ever?

21. Do you think that health warning labels appear with a contrasting background that makes them stand out and makes them easy to read all of the time, some of the time, not very often or hardly ever?

22. Do you think that the words on health warning labels are clearly legible or readable under ordinary conditions all of the time, some of the time, not very often or hardly ever?

23. What changes do you think could be made to make the health warning labels more noticeable and easier to read?

I am going to read a list of statements. Please tell me whether you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with each. ROTATE CHOICES

24. A warning message printed in all capital letters is more difficult to read than a message printed in upper and lower case characters. Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with this statement?

25. More people would be aware of what the warning message stated if it was easier to read. Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with this statement?

26. Health warning labels sometimes appear in the least prominent place on bottles and cans and this makes them difficult to notice and read. Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with this statement?

27. Warning messages often appear on a background color that makes them hard to read. Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with this statement?

28. Warning labels would be more visible and readable if the government was actually serious about people noticing them. Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with this statement?

I am going to read a list of possible changes to the health warning statement that appears on alcohol beverages. Please tell me whether you believe each would be a very effective, a somewhat effective, a not very effective or a not at all effective method to make warning labels more noticeable and readable. ROTATE CHOICES

29. Placing the warning label in a prominent place on the front of all alcohol beverage bottles and cans. Do you think this would be a very effective, a somewhat effective, a not very effective or a not at all effective method to make warning labels more noticeable and readable?

30. Having the warning label printed horizontally or across as opposed to vertically or up and down. Do you think this would be a very effective, a somewhat effective, a not very effective or a not at all effective method to make warning labels more noticeable and readable?

31. Placing the warning message in the same relative position on all bottle and cans. Do you think this would be a very effective, a somewhat effective, a not very effective or a not at all effective method to make warning labels more noticeable and readable?

32. Requiring that government warning, the first two words of the health warning statement, appear in capital letters and bold face type larger than the remaining text of the label. Do you think this would be a very effective, a somewhat effective, a not very effective or a not at all effective method to make warning labels more noticeable and readable?

33. Having warning labels printed in red or black type on a white background and surrounded by a lined border. Do you think this would be a very effective, a somewhat effective, a not very effective or a not at all effective method to make warning labels more noticeable and readable?

34. Requiring that the warning labels contain a red pictorial device or icon, such as a triangle with an exclamation mark inside, that would attract the consumer’s attention. Do you think this would be a very effective, a somewhat effective, a not very effective or a not at all effective method to make warning labels more noticeable and readable?

For more information on alcohol warning labels, please click here.

August 2001