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Published:  23 July, 2008

US beer, wine and spirit labels will shortly be able to invite consumers to discover more about the health effects of wine consumption. The US Treasury Department's Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which recently replaced the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), has lifted a 1999 moratorium on its approval of health-related directional statements, such as labels referring consumers to their doctors or to the US Government's Dietary Guidelines'. Alluding to a protected right under the First Amendment', the TTB determined that beer, wine and spirits could carry directional statements, provided that they include a disclaimer such as, This statement should not encourage you to drink or increase your alcohol consumption.' The decision has been warmly welcomed by California Wine Institute President and CEO John De Luca: We believe science has prevailed over politics,' he said. We view our directional wine label statement as a responsible education tool that encourages consumers to read the Dietary Guidelines. The public has the right to know, and should be trusted to handle the information on the potential health risks and benefits of alcohol.' The Wine Institute's directional statement was accepted on 5 February 1999, and 99 labels were approved before 22 April 1999. A moratorium was passed when anti-alcohol campaigner and former Senator Strom Thurmond held up key appointments at the Treasury Department. Thurmond released his hold on appointments when the then Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Rubin, agreed to public hearings on the issue. The ATF held hearings in Washington DC and San Francisco in 2000, which culminated in the recent ruling.