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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 March 2007, 12:26 GMT
Drink campaign 'has wrong focus'
Adult drinker
A recent study suggests 74.4% of Britons drink at home
Alcohol awareness campaigns focus too much on young binge-drinkers rather than older people drinking at home, senior doctors have said.

The Royal College of Physicians believes adult alcohol intake is a much bigger health hazard - fuelled by an abundance of cheap alcohol.

The college wants alcohol prices raised and its availability decreased.

Health minister Lord Hunt said advice on sensible drinking was aimed at all drinkers - wherever they were.

"I know that the recommendation is that people don't drink every night so the body does have a chance to recover," he said.

"We're doing everything we can and I know that the colleagues I work with in this area want to get these sensible drinking messages out and, wherever you drink, it is important that you take note of that."

Advertising plea

Professor Ian Gilmore, head of the college, expressed concern over the number of adults turning to drink because of stress at work or difficulties at home.

UK 74.4%
France 66%
Germany 64.3%
Spain 44.5%

Source: Mintel

He called on the government to changed the "regulatory framework".

"We're incredibly liberal in this country. You go 20 miles across the Channel to France, there's a ban on broadcast advertising, there's no sports sponsorship in France.

"Their drinking is falling, their cirrhosis rates are falling."

He said alcohol had "never been cheaper in real terms in our lifetime that it is now" and it had never been more available.

'Educating' drinkers

Drinks firms said they were doing their bit to encourage responsible drinking.

The industry has been looking at education for the general consumer
Kate Coleman
Wine and Spirit Trade Association

David Poley, of the Portman Group, which speaks for the industry, Britain's drinking culture needed to be changed through a "co-ordinated programme including education".

"That's why the drinks industry is supporting the Drinkaware Trust to carry out this consumer education over the next three years."

And Kate Coleman, from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said the industry was committed to giving customers the relevant information about safe drinking levels.

"The industry has been looking at education for the general consumer in terms of unit labelling and the government's sensible drinking messages for some time," she said.

Recent research by Mintel suggested more Britons drink alcohol than Germans or Spaniards.

Their study also concluded that Britons were far more likely to drink at home than their counterparts in mainland Europe.

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