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Last Updated: Monday, 24 May, 2004, 08:28 GMT 09:28 UK
What can be done about binge-drinking?
police arresting a violent drunk
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has warned that binge-drinking is fast becoming the "new British disease".

Mr Blair warned the drinks industry that they may have to contribute to the increasing costs of policing drunken behaviour.

In a British Crime Survey, 44% of victims of violence thought their attacker was under the influence of alcohol and 70% of weekend night admissions to hospital casualty are linked to drinking.

Do you think the UK has a binge-drinking culture? Do you live in an area that suffers the effects of binge-drinking? What should be done to tackle the problem?


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far.

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

It's not new, it has always happened the maxim used to be 'work hard play hard' - what is new is the level of violence and social unrest that goes with it. It is my firm belief that this is caused by eradication of any form of discipline during a child's upbringing.
Derek, England

Proper drinkers drink proper drinks so put a 500% tax on alcopops and they won't seem so sexy anymore to the fashion slaves. Oh, and while you're at it abolish student discounts for booze then they can concentrate on their studies and make a fair contribution to alcohol duty for a change. Problem solved!
Howard, UK

Drinking should be just another normal part of living
Louise, Sydney, Australia
Countries like Italy and Australia don't have big drinking problems because we learn to drink in moderation at an early age. Leave the pubs open all night, have a glass of wine with a meal, let you kids have the occasional glass of wine with the family. Drinking should be just another normal part of living.
Louise, Sydney, Australia

Leave the system alone, open the bars 24 hours and when someone misbehaves take appropriate action - a police caution is not enough, let the courts fine them a reasonable amount. About 10% of their monthly salary should do it.
David, Croydon Surrey

I'm not from the UK but I'm married to an Englishman and he swears that binge drinking is just in the blood, it's been going on for ages. My husband said he first drank at 9 years old (he's now 33 but stopped drinking at 26) and his parents thought it was just a rite of passage and in his family they also got the dog drunk on a regular basis just for fun. We aren't against drinking, although neither of us drink now, but feel that the youth in the UK need to at least be informed of what binge drinking can do to you health-wise (scoliosis of the liver, etc) and also socially if you become an alcoholic(likely to be jobless, homeless, etc). You could at least equal out the drinking image a bit, for every image of having fun being drunk that is out there you should show someone suffering from it as well.
Hilary, Arizona, USA

Even in the soaps drinking is central to British society and culture
Graeme, London, UK
Pubs are the social centres of all the most popular TV shows. Even in the soaps we are shown constantly that drinking is central to British society and culture. Perhaps events in the Rover's Return, the Queen Vic and other soap pubs could be used to address the issues - unless of course the 'new British disease' is no more real than they are . . .
Graeme, London, UK

If I were a British citizen this statement would make me nervous. It's sounds like the beginning of a movement to ban drinking, it always starts like this. If the government is going to ban everything that may possibly harm you. Why not ban sex - you could catch AIDS and die, lets ban candy- it may make you fat and you could die.
Mike Daly, Miami, FL - US

Licensing laws should be relaxed, so that people do not drink excessively over a short period of time. Sunday opening hours should be extended for a start to 11pm!
Zoe, England

Stop binge drinking by removing artificial constraints and abolish licensing hours. Here in Germany, we can drink until 5am, and there is no binge drinking.
david, Munich, Germany

Let the Brits enjoy themselves. At least Britain is not over-crowded with alcohol probationary rules and restrictions like here in the USA!
Sahil Kumar, Minneapolis, MN

I think the drinks industry pays more than its fair share of contributions to the exchequer. With all that cash - they fund police, hospitals, education and the likes. Lets not forget who gets the lions share of money on alcohol and cigarettes. Mr Blair is nothing short of a cheat and a scoundrel who is hell-bent on taxing us all to death.
Jasons, Iraq

If alcohol wasn't publicised as the centre of an adult's world, binge-drinking would disappear
Miranda, Chelmsford, UK
There is certainly a culture of drinking as much as possible in the UK, and it doesn't start at 18 - the average age in my peer group for the first time being drunk is 14. Teenagers are desperate to be seen as cool, whether to fit in, pull or whatever - perhaps if alcohol wasn't publicised as the centre of an adult's world, binge-drinking would disappear in a decade.
Miranda, Chelmsford, UK

The solution is easy. Introduce a blanket ban on all drinking in public places. That way those who want to drink in a smoke free environment and those who like to smoke whilst having a drink can happily do so at home.
Chris, UK

I work Monday to Friday and on a Friday I go home clean my flat, call my friends and arrange my Saturday night. I can drink a small bottle of vodka getting reading be in a club for 10 . When I'm there I stake my pitch for the evening, drink 12 bottles of alcopops, get very drunk and dance my heart out. I stumble home about 3:00am. When I wake up the next day I'm glad I'm did all I needed to on Friday evening because all I want to do is sleep. Then I'm back to work on Monday. I'm 28 with no kids or husband, I pay my bills and I work hard. Where is the harm in that?
Joanne Pope, Plymouth, UK

I used to worry about the increase in binge drinking across the country, but I've noticed that after a few pints, I stop being so concerned.
Al, Bath

Binge drinking is just a symptom of a rich society that wants to do everything to excess
Steve Tooke, Bournemouth, UK
I don't think that binge drinking is the only problem. People do everything to excess these days, not just drinking. The old adage "everything in moderation" has been largely forgotten. People eat too much, drink too much alcohol, too much tea and coffee, too many drugs, too much exercise. Binge drinking is just a symptom of a rich society that wants to do everything to excess. That is the culture we need to change, not just binge drinking.
Steve Tooke, Bournemouth, UK

Binge drinking is a cultural issue, and will persist in the UK irrespective of changes to licensing laws, so long as getting bevvied up and "having a larf" is the stated aim of revellers in our pubs and clubs. Societal acceptance of drunkenness in general must change before real progress will be made.
Richard, Ashford, UK

I first held a license when I was 23. The National Licensees Certificate is issued to people who have passed an exam that will allow them to sell alcohol with the blessing of the courts. As an award winning publican, with ten years of running pubs I stuck by the guidelines laid down for the responsible sale of alcohol. Many young licensees are pressured into selling drink to inebriated punters for the sake of profit. It is illegal to sell an intoxicating liquor to someone who you believe is already intoxicated. This is the law and irresponsible landlords should be held accountable.
Stuart, Southampton

An increase in business rates on pubs
Tom, UK
There should be an increase in business rates on pubs and other licensed premises to pay for increased policing around closing time. This will spare people who drink at home from an unjustified tax increase.
Tom, UK

People drink so much in this country because the weather is pretty awful so we have few alternative after-work pursuits on offer to us. Provide some free indoor sports facilities and activities (such as dance lessons sporting competitions), any healthy alternative to the pub and binge drinking will go down.
Anon, London

Binge drinking is mainly a young male's problem. The answer is therefore simple, raise the legal drinking age to somewhere between 23 and 25. Most people have gained some common sense by that age.
Keith, UK

Both the UK and Ireland are the only EU countries that have a binge-drinking culture due to the strict licensing laws. I lived in Belgium for four months where bars are allowed to open 24 hours. There was no big kick out at the same time, no rush or fights for taxis, no street brawls and no need for the massive police presence you see here. People moderated their drink more unlike here where people try to drink as much as possible before the bar closes.
Barra Best, Belfast, N. Ireland

The problem is that in the UK, if you don't drink you are treated like a leper or a complete freak.
Parminder, UK

The police should be coming down on binge drinkers like a ton of bricks
Derek S, UK
As usual the socialists are complaining about a culture they have directly helped to foster. This then prepares the way for more legislation to reduce our freedoms still further. The police should be coming down on binge drinkers like a ton of bricks but as usual their hands are tied by a woolly touchy feely justice system where no-one is to held accountable for their own actions.
Derek S, UK

Stop the nightclubs offering 10.00 entry fee and all you can drink. Simple. This is an ongoing offer in most of the clubs in Cardiff.
Kelly Petersen, Wales

The Government needs to regulate the drinks industry. A health warning should be on all bottles and all alcohol advertising should be banned. Currently the drinks industry 'glamorises' drinking whereas it can kill lives and destroy families. Money should be provided by the drinks industry to help with alcohol education and treatment.
Dee Connor, Northolt, Middlesex

How about not expecting several thousand people all in the space of maybe a square mile to finish drinking at 11pm, this almost encourages people to pack in as much as possible in a short space of time. Licensing laws were put in place as a result of the war effort, that was 60 years ago - it's time they were relaxed. I have lived in France, 11pm is when people are just thinking about going out - bars are open later, people space out their drinking more, and the atmosphere is so much more friendly.
Andy, Cheltenham, UK

I have 4 or more pints in a night. I have been binge drinking most nights for 30 years, so how can it be a new disease? I have never been in trouble because of it or caused the police to waste their time on me. Many of my friends are in the same boat. It is the way young people are being bought up in this namby-pamby society that's the problem.
Paul, Swindon

Easy, pubs should stay open longer!
JP, Fleet

Stop last orders and give pubs later licences
Leigh, Leeds
I worked in pubs for years, and found people to be their rudest and most destructive at closing time, especially in pubs. When a pub closes at 11 people try and drink as much as they can and will buy 3 or 4 pints to down in the 15 minutes of drinking up time. This was when people commonly caused trouble. Stop last orders and give pubs later licences - make alcohol become no big deal like it is in Europe - they don't have the same problems we do.
Leigh, Leeds

The problem is there is not a lot that can be done. It's a sad fact that so many people binge drink. Maybe they should start enforcing the law that already exists where you cannot serve someone who is drunk.
Lianne, Cannock, UK




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