The wine, beer and spirits industry has urged Scottish ministers "resist pressure" and bring in a legal requirement for producers to put health warnings - similar to those on cigarette packets - on bottles and cans containing alcoholic drinks.

The calls are being made by senior doctors and public health experts ahead of new moves by the Scottish Government to consider the marketing of alcohol.

Medical professionals want labels to set out the health risks associated with alcohol such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, liver disease and foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Ireland is due to become the first country in the world to require health labels to be carried on alcoholic drinks.

The new law is expected to come into force in the Republic in 2026 and it will be mandatory for the packaging on alcoholic beverages to display information including calorie content, risks of cancer and liver disease and the dangers of drinking during pregnancy.

The European Commission signed off on the plan which has prompted many public heath professionals to push for the entire European Union to follow suit.

Six years ago the Scottish Government promised to consider making it a legal requirement for producers to put labels on their products detailing information about the effects on health of alcohol if the UK Government had not done so by September 2019.

However, more than four years later ministers have still to consider such an approach and have left the issue of labelling a voluntary matter for producers.

Dr Tamasin Knight, a consultant in public health medicine and member of BMA Scotland’s Consultant Committee, urged ministers to consider the issue now.

She said it would give consumers more information about the long term impact of drinking on their health.

“Scotland’s long standing and damaging relationship with alcohol requires wide and comprehensive action to improve our nation’s health," she said.

"As part of that, BMA Scotland would like to see mandatory labelling on alcoholic drinks that clearly states the alcohol content in units, and that includes advice on recommended drinking levels and a health warning as well.

"As part of an overall programme, this could help those buying alcohol to make informed choices that considers the long term impact on their health. We would suggest the Scottish Government looks carefully at this issue and takes it forward as part of its plan to help reduce the harm caused by alcohol to the people of Scotland, which will ultimately also help ease the pressure on our over-stretched NHS.”

Dr Alastair MacGilchrist, chair of SHAAP, said mandatory health labelling would help "combat the crisis with alcohol in Scotland" added that ministers should keep to the commitment they made in 2018.

“Consumers should have the right to information, in order to make informed decisions about their alcohol consumption and health - but at this point in time there is very limited provision of clear information on labels," he said.

“We know using health warning labels and providing health information has worked in informing consumers about the dangers of tobacco products, so alongside other policies to increase price, restrict marketing and reduce availability of alcohol, making informative labelling mandatory will contribute to efforts to combat the crisis with alcohol in Scotland.

"Labels should include information on ingredients, calories, units, Chief Medical Officers’ low risk guidelines, and health risks associated with alcohol such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, liver disease and Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

“It is simply bizarre that of all the beverages and food we buy, alcohol alone is exempt from providing mandatory information on ingredients and calories."

He added: “Alcohol industry’s attempts to self-regulate have been woeful. For example, they congratulate themselves that just over half of alcohol products carry the CMO low risk guidelines – indicating that almost half do not: surely a matter for criticism not congratulation.

“Effective labelling will need to be regulated by an unbiased, independent body unrelated to the alcohol industry, and this will require legislation by government.

“We expect the Scottish Government to resist alcohol industry pressure and follow through on their 2018 commitment”.

The Scottish Government's Alcohol Framework, published in 2018, stated: "We will press alcohol producers to place health information on physical product and packaging labels – and will be prepared to consider pursuing a mandatory approach in Scotland if the UK Government’s deadline of September 2019 is not met."

Matt Lambert, CEO of The Portman Group , the alcohol social responsibility body and marketing regulator in the UK, said: “We are fully supportive of consumers having access to practical and actionable health information on products.

"Our best practice standards have already ensured that the Chief Medical Officer drinking guidelines, unit information and pregnancy warnings voluntarily appear on the vast majority of products in the UK.

“As an industry, we are constantly reviewing and assessing the best ways to keep people informed about the impact of alcohol, and would encourage the Scottish Government to work with us and address any concerns within the existing self-regulatory system rather than pursuing further Government regulation of the market.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government’s Alcohol Framework is clear that we expect producers to place the Chief Medical Officer’s guideline of 14 units weekly on labels and cans. Any health messaging should be on-pack, where the consumer will clearly see it at the point of purchase, rather than online where it is far less accessible.

“The Scottish Government continues to engage with colleagues across the four nations, including on the recent UK Government consultation on No and Low Alcohol drink labelling, to consider how best to balance public health aims with any potential regulatory impacts on business and industry.”