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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 February 2008, 12:39 GMT
End cut-rate booze, Tories say
Drunks' ambulance
Doctors worry that binge drinking is taxing the health system
Alcohol retailers need to adopt "social responsibility" when pricing drinks, shadow home secretary David Davis says.

He said he did not want higher taxes on drink to tackle binge drinking, because tax was a "blunt instrument" which would also hit responsible drinkers.

Curbing cut-price deals and looking again at 24-hour licensing was better, he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

His comments come as the government plans to launch a new anti-drink campaign targeting middle-aged women.

The 10m campaign will offer stark warnings about the dangers of alcohol.

Social responsibility

"We've got to do something about the fact that youngsters can down eight pints of high-strength lager for less than a fiver. That can't be right," Mr Davis said.

Supermarket giant Tesco has claimed that raising its prices along with other chains would violate competition laws. Mr Davis said the government should therefore look at such laws.

"If that's true, we should be looking at that," he said.

"We've got to look at that because we have companies behaving without social responsibility because of the law."

The government should also look "very hard" at the 24-hour licensing regime, Mr Davis said.

I'm concerned that a lot of women are drinking much more than they think they are and that it's damaging and hurting them in terms of their health
Dawn Primarolo, Public Health minister

But he said the Tories would not advocate higher alcohol taxes, because they were the "bluntest instrument possible" and the best way of dealing with binge drinking among young people "may be something else".

"I don't think we'll jump right into that particular solution," he said.

The government advert campaign, to be launched this spring, will focus on professional women between the ages of 30 and 50.

Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo told The Observer that with stronger wines on the market and larger glasses being sold in bars and restaurants, women often did not appreciate how many units they were consuming.

"I'm concerned that a lot of women are drinking much more than they think they are, and that it's damaging and hurting them in terms of their health."

She said there are women who might think that a glass of wine equalled one alcohol unit - when it could be as high as three-and-a-half units.

The campaign will give clear information about how many units are in alcoholic drinks. It also aims to challenge perceptions that say it is all right to be drunk.



SEE ALSO
Tesco chief 'is binge godfather'
06 Dec 07 |  UK Politics
PM urges action on alcohol sales
21 Nov 07 |  UK Politics

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