Australia's Health Minister Nicola Roxon Monday said the government was considering placing graphic warning labels on alcoholic drinks to combat the nation's urge to drink heavily.
The newly elected Labor government has already made fighting binge drinking among young people a priority, with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd saying he hoped to "scare the living daylights" out of boozing teenagers.
AdvertisementRoxon said labels, such as those on cigarette packets in Australia which carry photographs of the diseases linked to smoking such as gangrene, were being considered as part of an overall strategy.
"This is getting the balance right, it's about what we need to do with our laws and regulations but it's also about what we need to do within the community," she told reporters in Melbourne.
"This is a social problem not just a legal problem and we need to make sure that we are addressing it as such."
Roxon said new national laws to override inconsistencies in state and territory legislation on the sale of alcohol would also be discussed at a meeting of health officials in the southern city of Adelaide on Wednesday.
The meeting comes amid calls to raise the legal drinking age above 18 and tax hikes on alcohol products to reduce under-age and binge drinking.
Roxon said such measures would only be considered if they had community support.
But she said banning the supply of alcohol to minors unless a parent or guardian was present, a practice which is illegal in some but not all states, was up for debate.
"You wouldn't dream of, as a parent, offering a cigarette to someone else's child," she told reporters.
"We need to say, 'Is that the situation we want to be in for alcohol?' But we need to have a very strong community debate still about the way forward because the community has to be part of the solution."
The Australian National Council on Drugs said drinking was such an ingrained part of national culture, placing warning labels on bottles would need to be supplemented by restrictions on alcohol advertising to have an impact.
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