The Irish authorities they decided her mandatory introduction of health warning labels on alcoholic beverageswarning of their link to cancer, liver disease and the dangers of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

The new regulations, signed today by Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly, will come into effect in three years to give businesses time to prepare for the changes. The labels will also inform consumers of the drinks’ calorie and alcohol content.

Other countries have also introduced health warning labels on alcoholic products, similar to those placed on cigarette packs, warning of the harmful health effects of smoking.

The Irish regulations are however intended to be more comprehensive.

“This law is designed to give all of us as consumers a better understanding of alcohol content and the health risks associated with alcohol consumption,” Donnelly stated. “I welcome the fact that we are the first country in the world to take this step,” he added.

As he said, with this law the regulations that apply to the packaging of other food and beverage products will also apply to the packaging of alcoholic beverages.

This decision by Dublin has led numerous of Ireland’s major trading partners to express their concern to the European Commission. Nine EU member states, including France and Italy, have opposed Ireland’s move.

Echoing protests from Italian winemakers, Italy’s Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani earlier this year branded Ireland’s plan to introduce health warning labels on alcoholic drinks “absurd”.