The Effects of Alcohol Warning Labels on Population Alcohol Consumption: An Interrupted Time Series Analysis of Alcohol Sales in Yukon, Canada

J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2020 Mar;81(2):225-237.


Objective: There is limited evidence that alcohol warning labels (AWLs) affect population alcohol consumption. New evidence-informed AWLs were introduced in the sole government-run liquor store in Whitehorse, Yukon, that included a cancer warning (Ca), low-risk drinking guidelines (LRDGs) and standard drink (SD) messages. These temporarily replaced previous pregnancy warning labels. We test if the intervention was associated with reduced alcohol consumption.

Method: An interrupted time series study was designed to evaluate the effects of the AWLs on consumption for 28 months before and 14 months after starting the intervention. Neighboring regions of Yukon and Northwest Territories served as control sites. About 300,000 labels were applied to 98% of alcohol containers sold in Whitehorse during the intervention. Multilevel regression analyses of per capita alcohol sales data for people age 15 years and older were performed to examine consumption levels in the intervention and control sites before, during, and after the AWLs were introduced. Models were adjusted for demographic and economic characteristics over time and region.

Results: Total per capita retail alcohol sales in Whitehorse decreased by 6.31% (t test p < .001) during the intervention. Per capita sales of labeled products decreased by 6.59% (t test p < .001), whereas sales of unlabeled products increased by 6.91% (t test p < .05). There was a still larger reduction occurring after the intervention when pregnancy warning labels were reintroduced (-9.97% and -10.29%, t test p < .001).

Conclusions: Applying new AWLs was associated with reduced population alcohol consumption. The results are consistent with an accumulating impact of the addition of varying and highly visible labels with impactful messages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / trends
  • Alcoholic Beverages*
  • Commerce / methods*
  • Commerce / trends
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interrupted Time Series Analysis / methods*
  • Interrupted Time Series Analysis / trends
  • Male
  • Population Surveillance / methods
  • Pregnancy
  • Product Labeling / methods*
  • Product Labeling / trends
  • Yukon Territory / epidemiology