A new system of labelling alcohol products with health warnings, alcohol levels and calorie counts has been recommended in a new report, seen by RTÉ News.

The Oireachtas Health Committee report advocates the introduction of health warnings on alcohol products "in a similar fashion to tobacco legislation".

The report, which will be published on Monday, advocates that "clear health warnings are to be included on alcohol products, indicating that alcohol causes disease."

It continues that the health "warnings should be given prominence with an emphasis on visual graphic designs for maximum effect".

The report suggests that "labelling should detail alcohol content in grams, standard drink size and relate this to maximum weekly consumption."

Appearing before the health committee to participate in the pre-legislative scrutiny, some stakeholders from the health sector proposed new labelling changes.

The Irish Heart Foundation recommended labels should include "graphic illustrations of the detrimental health effects arising from alcohol use", while the Irish Cancer Society advocated that labels should say "drinking alcohol causes cancer". 

Director of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland Ross MacMathúna said the drinks industry is in favour of giving consumers "the right information for them to take an appropriate decision about consuming alcohol and the volumes they consume.”

He added: "With tobacco there is no such thing as a safe cigarette but alcohol is different. Drinking alcohol in moderation is compatible with having a healthy lifestyle so I would like to see any proposals on labelling reflect that sort of information."

The Chairperson of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer, said the committee's report aims "to prevent harmful drinking as opposed to the tobacco labels, which are to prevent smoking altogether.

Mr Buttimer added: "In the case of alcohol we are targeting people through labelling to ensure they understand the difficulties associated with the consumption of excessive alcohol, similar to what is on the labels in France and the UK."

The committee also recommends minimum unit pricing of alcohol "to target high risk people who are consuming alcohol to excess regularly."

The report estimates that minimum unit pricing would be effective in reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol-related death, hospitalisations, crimes and workplace absences.

It will now be up to the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to determine the actual amount of a new pricing structure when he publishes the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.

While the report does not include a ban on alcohol sponsorship of sports, there are recommendations on marketing and advertising of alcohol.

These include a new ban on outdoor advertising of alcohol within a 250m distance of schools.

Mr Buttimer added: "We as a nation have to see a cultural and behavioural shift around alcohol and this pre-legislative scrutiny, the report and the minister’s bill will be the catalyst for change we hope."