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BBC TwoNewsnight
Page last updated at 12:36 GMT, Thursday, 13 December 2007
Newsnight alcohol special



Britain's love/hate relationship with alcohol has led to many headlines over the past 12 months.

Red wine in a glass
In Thursday's programme - entitled Boozenight - we'll debate many of the issues that have been shaping our perception of the nation's relationship with alcohol.

We'll also be revisiting some of the people who featured in Paul Watson's award-winning documentary, Rain In My Heart, which aired last year on BBC TWO.

All week we've been debating some of the issues online and will raise many of them in the programme.

You can join the debates via our Boozenight blog:

IS BOOZE TOO CHEAP?

Last week during a Commons debate there were calls for action against supermarkets selling alcohol below cost price. But it's not only supermarkets. Small shops are rife with discounts and multi-buy promotions as well, and it's not unusual to find bottles of alcohol selling for less than a bottle of water. So, should this practice be banned? Or should booze be cheap and accessible to all? Should there be a significant increase in how much alcohol is taxed?

SHOULD WE CHANGE THE LAW?

Has the government has got it right with drinking legislation? Consider three areas: 24 hour licensing, which is now just over two years old. Has this brought us any closer to the drinking culture of our continental cousins, or merely aggravated the already high incidents of binge drinking and anti-social behaviour? Consider also whether the minimum drinking age is still appropriate? In an effort to tackle teenage drinking, should the age be raised from 18 to 21, perhaps? Or should it be lowered? And what of advertising? Should there be a threshold of, say, 9pm before we see alcohol being advertised on TV, or should it go the way of tobacco and be banned entirely?

SHOULD THE NHS PAY?

Doctors have warned of an alarming rise in the number of patients they are seeing with alcohol-related diseases. We spend more on treating drug-related illness than we do alcohol. But the NHS nevertheless spends a huge amount of money in this area. Is it time to cut back or do we need to spend more? Should the NHS be paying to treat people with alcohol-related conditions at all? Should the drinks industry play a part in this treatment? And does a patient in need of a liver transplant because of alcohol abuse deserve to get one?




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