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Pink Ribbon labeling on alcohol containers sparks controversy among U.S. women

05.05.2023 - A recent study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy (Greene et al., 2023) has found that women in the United States are divided on the issue of restricting pink ribbon labeling on alcohol containers, despite the known link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk. The pink ribbon symbolizes breast cancer awareness, hope, connection, and community, but its use on alcohol products may send a contradictory message to consumers.

The study, conducted in September 2020, included a sample of 511 U.S. women aged 21 and older, drawn from the Prolific crowd-sourced research platform. Participants were divided in their stance on a hypothetical policy to restrict pink ribbon labeling on alcohol containers: 46% opposed the policy, 34% remained neutral, and 20% supported it.

Interestingly, the study revealed that women who were aware that wine increases cancer risk had the highest probability (56.4%) of opposing restrictions on pink ribbon labeling. In contrast, women who believed wine had no effect on cancer risk had the highest probability (45.5%) of remaining neutral about the restrictions.

The researchers, led by Naomi K. Greene, also found that women's attitudes toward pink ribbon labeling on alcohol containers were a stronger predictor of their support or opposition to restrictions than their knowledge of the alcohol-cancer link. This suggests that the emotional appeal of the pink ribbon may outweigh the importance of public health concerns for many women.

The study had some limitations, including a non-probability sample of U.S. women and a focus on individuals with higher breast cancer risk or risk of recurrence. However, the findings highlight the need for further research and intervention efforts aimed at improving awareness of alcohol industry marketing practices that may misrepresent alcohol-related harms.

In conclusion, the use of pink ribbon labeling on alcohol containers remains a contentious issue among U.S. women. As cause-related marketing may increase favorability toward products and influence purchasing behavior, future research could examine whether pink ribbon labeling interacts with potential or current health warnings on alcohol containers to better inform public policy.

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