Department of Health and Social Care
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Units - they all add up - new £10m alcohol campaign launched

Units - they all add up - new £10m alcohol campaign launched

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH News Release issued by The Government News Network on 19 May 2008

77% of people don't know how many units in a glass of wine

A new 'Units' campaign which aims to tell drinkers how many units are in their drinks and help them stick to their limits was launched today by Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo.

The Know Your Limits campaign - the biggest alcohol awareness campaign to date - kicks off its units strand with a series of adverts on TV, radio, billboards and in press, depicting the number of units in individual drinks. The Units campaign has an overall budget of £6 million for 2008/09. It will be followed by a £4 million binge-drinking campaign from the Home Office next month.

The units campaign uses iconic imagery to help people understand how many units are in typical alcoholic drinks, and how to stay within the recommended daily guidelines for regular drinking of 2-3 units a day for women, and 3-4 units a day for men. The campaign will also warn people about how regularly drinking too much can damage their health.

New YouGov poll results out today show that English drinkers don't know exactly how much they are drinking. More than four out of five (82 per cent) claim to know what a unit of alcohol is, yet 77 per cent don't know how many units are in a typical large glass of wine.

More than half (55 per cent) of those questioned thought a large glass of wine (ABV 12 per cent) would contain two units, when it actually contains three. More than a third (35 per cent) did not know that an average pint of beer (ABV 4 per cent) contains two units, while nearly three out of five (58 per cent) did not know a double gin and tonic also contains two units.

Public Health Minister, Dawn Primarolo, said:

"Glass sizes have grown larger and the strength of many wines and beers has increased, so it's no wonder some of us have lost track of our alcohol consumption.

"This campaign is all about helping people understand how many units are in their favourite drinks, and helping them to keep an eye on their intake for the good of their long-term health.

"Excessive alcohol consumption is proven to play a significant role in the development of numerous diseases, including several cancers, heart disease and stroke. That's why this campaign is so important to the public's health."

Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said: "I fully welcome this public information campaign. Combined with wider action across government, this is a vital measure in tackling all forms of excessive drinking."

"In the meantime we will continue to work closely with everyone involved -government agencies and industry alike - to tackle the harm caused by excessive alcohol consumption."

Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson said:

"It is important that people are aware of how much alcohol their drinks contain, and the associated links to health harm. I welcome this initiative for the sake of everyone's health, to improve understanding of units and encourage people to consider the effect that excess alcohol consumption has on their health."

The YouGov survey showed that while most women (64 per cent) knew that their recommended daily guidelines are 2-3 units, just half of the men surveyed knew their equivalent guidelines are 3-4 units a day.

Unit awareness also appears to get worse with age: 32 per cent of drinkers aged 18-24 correctly said that a large glass of 12 per cent ABV wine contains three units, compared to just 18 per cent of drinkers over 55. And 69 per cent of drinkers aged 18-24 correctly stated that a pint of 4 per cent ABV beer contains two units, compared to 57 per cent of drinkers over 55.

The poll revealed that more than half (52 per cent) of adult drinkers in England drink alcohol at least two to three times a week, and one in ten drinks every day.

To help people add up the units in their drinks, the Government has launched a new online calculator that can be downloaded to your desktop. For more information, visit

Ends -

Notes to editors

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,972 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22 - 24 April 2008. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). The sample was filtered to 1,429 adults in England who consume alcohol.

Know Your Limits is a joint Department of Health and Home Office initiative, launched in October 2006. The campaign encourages people to drink responsibly and to recognise what their limits are when it comes to alcohol.

Recordings of the new TV adverts and images of the print adverts are available from the press office. Interview bids must be submitted to the press office.

For more information, visit


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