Page last updated at 14:32 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

7 questions on binge-drinking history

Binge drinking quiz

The government has announced plans to end all-you-can-drink promotions, while the Conservatives want duty increases on strong beers and alcopops. Test yourself on the long history of efforts to control problem drinking.

Beer glass

1.) Multiple Choice Question

An early measure came in 186BC in the Roman decree known as Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus. It banned orgies associated with the god of wine, except where authorised by the senate. What was the typical penalty for ringleaders?

Bacchanalian orgy
  1. Death
  2. Banishment
  3. Lifetime drinking ban

2.) Multiple Choice Question

The roots of the UK's current licensing laws lie in the Ale Houses Act 1551, aimed at tackling "abuses and disorders as are had and used in common ale-houses". Who granted ale house licences?

Man drinking ale
  1. Parliament
  2. Lord Lieutenants
  3. Justices of the Peace

3.) Multiple Choice Question

Shakespeare addressed the issue of binge drinking. Which character memorably said this about alcohol: "O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains"?

  1. Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor
  2. The Porter in Macbeth
  3. Cassio in Othello


Falstaff, pictured here, is the most consistently tipsy of Shakespeare's characters. And the Porter has this to say on drinking: "Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes; it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance: therefore, much drink may be said to be an equivocator with lechery: it makes him, and it mars him."

Falstaff with a drink

4.) Multiple Choice Question

In mid-18th Century, two acts were passed to tackle the social menace of gin consumption. Hogarth's Gin Lane, which shows a baby falling from a drunk mother's arms, is a well-known images of binge drinking. What's the title of its companion print, showing a happier scene?

Detail of Hogarth's Gin Lane
  1. Beer Street
  2. Water Street
  3. Temperance Street

5.) Multiple Choice Question

A famous anti-drinking measure came in 1919 when the US brought in Prohibition. It was fully repealed in late 1933, but a measure earlier in the year had allowed beer and light wine. What was sent to President Roosevelt to mark the occasion?

Anti-alcohol demonstration
  1. Coffin full of empty bottles
  2. Case of beer
  3. Bottle of champagne

6.) Multiple Choice Question

During WWI, the UK imposed state control of the sale of alcohol in a number of regions considered key to the war effort. Which of the following did the rules ban?

Munitions workers
  1. Sale of rum
  2. Buying of rounds
  3. Drinking on Sundays

7.) Multiple Choice Question

Many of those who criticise the UK's binge drinking culture blame "24-hour drinking" - brought in by the Licensing Act 2003 - for exacerbating the problem. When did the new rules actually come in?

Drunk Girl
  1. 24 November 2003
  2. 24 November 2005
  3. 24 November 2007


  1. It was death, says the historian Livy. The measure was prompted by the belief that the bouts of revelry were becoming a breeding ground for murder, rape and even political conspiracy.
  2. Justices of the Peace gave the licences for ale houses. Separate legislation was later brought in to regulate those taverns primarily selling wine.
  3. It's Cassio - a young and handsome lieutenant under Othello's command - who is persuaded to take a drink by the scheming Iago, with the aim of discrediting him.
  4. It was Beer Street. The prints acted as satire and support for the Gin Act of 1751. Beer Street showed mostly healthy, happy people having a well-earned beer after a day's work. Drinking water at the time was unpurifed.
  5. Brewers Anheuser-Busch presented the president with one of the first cases of Budweiser on 7 April 1933.
  6. The rules strictly banned the buying of drinks for others, or indeed the lending of money to buy drinks. It was known as "no treating". But there was an exception for the buying of meals, which soon led to dispute over what was a meal. One railway station defined it as "two sandwiches and a piece of cake".
  7. It was 24 November 2005, meaning there has been more than four years of "24-hour drinking".

Your Score

0 - 3 : Teetotal

4 - 6 : Tipple

7 - 7 : Tequila

For a complete archive of past quizzes, including our weekly news quiz 7 days 7 questions, visit the Magazine index and scroll down the page.

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