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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 December 2006, 17:58 GMT
Britons 'not ready to drink less'
Two men drinking
Hazel Blears says Britons enjoy drinking to get drunk
Britons are incapable of emulating the European drinking culture because they "enjoy getting drunk," Labour party chairman Hazel Blears has said.

She told the Sunday Times people enjoyed "risk-taking" and "want to push the limits of danger".

She added that "maybe it's our Anglo-Saxon mentality" and that there were no "easy answers".

The government had hoped the introduction of 24-hour licensing laws would create a new drinking culture.

Health implications

Ms Blears compared British drinking habits to those on the Continent, claiming people abroad were able to drink much less when out socially.

"I don't know whether we'll ever get to be in a European drinking culture, where you go out and have a single glass of wine. Maybe it's our Anglo-Saxon mentality, " she said.

The 24-hour drinking was supposed to be the end of life as we know it. That hasn't happened
Hazel Blears

But she added the new drinking laws had not been as catastrophic as predicted by police and opposition politicians.

"The 24-hour drinking was supposed to be the end of life as we know it. That hasn't happened," she said.

"The health implications worry me. People are getting quite serious health conditions earlier, things like liver problems in their twenties and thirties that perhaps before only came out in their forties and fifties.

"I think we've got to do more education now - that has to be the absolute priority."

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport later said the new drinking laws were "one important part of a wider effort to change the public's attitude towards alcohol".

That included the government's alcohol harm reduction strategy for England, the spokesman added.

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