By the end of 2008 all alcoholic drinks labels must include sensible drinking advice, the government has announced today.
Labels will be expected to include how many alcoholic units are in the drink as well as the government's safe drinking guidelines, including the advice that pregnant women should not drink any alcohol.
Although most people are aware of units as a measure of alcohol consumption, just 13 per cent of people keep a check on the number of units as they drink.
The Department of Health hopes that the labelling will help people to keep an eye on their intake more easily. It advises that men drink no more than three to four units a day and women no more than two to three units daily.
Public health minister Caroline Flint described the decision on labelling as a "landmark voluntary agreement".
"We want to make it as simple as possible for people to keep an eye on how much they are drinking and help them take the responsibility for lessening the impact excess alcohol can have on their health," she said.
The move has been supported by the retail industry, which said it has and will continue to be actively involved in the development of the labels.
"This is yet another practical demonstration of retailers' responsible attitude to selling alcohol," said Andrew Opie, head of food policy at the British Retail Consortium.
Health campaigners have also welcomed the decision. Kevin Byrne, interim chief executive of the charity Drinkaware, said: "We hope that by providing consumers with more readily accessible information it will enable them to make better choices about how often and how much they drink."