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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 August 2005, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Health warning over drink reform
Binge drinking
Binge-drinking could increase, some say
Health workers in Wales have joined the condemnation of the relaxation in licensing laws.

The Public Health Association Cymru warned it would mean more alcohol abuse and a rise in drink-related health problems and violence.

Dr Paul Walker, chair of PHA Cymru, said: "Up to now we have felt that we are a lone voice."

On Friday, a senior Welsh police chief called for alcohol prices to be raised as a deterrent to binge-drinkers.

Dr Walker added: "It is in one way reassuring - but in another deeply worrying - that influential groups who have direct experience of the epidemic of alcohol misuse in this country, such as senior police officers and judges, hold similar views."

"As one of the judges pointed out, whereas government is taking strong action to curb smoking in the light of the evidence of the harm it causes, it seems to be recklessly oblivious to the problem of alcohol which has a much greater adverse social impact than smoking.

North Wales Police deputy chief constable Clive Wolfendale
Clive Wolfendale : put prices up

"The Licensing Act is now being implemented so we will have to live with it for a while. But clearly we must ensure that its impact is comprehensively monitored and that local authorities, the new licensing bodies, take whatever steps are available in the new legislation to mitigate the adverse effects on health and well-being."

Dr Walker said local authorities in Wales faced a great challenge. They had to take their responsibilities for safeguarding the health of people "seriously indeed."

North Wales Police deputy chief Clive Wolfendale has called for the cost of alcohol to be trebled to discourage binge drinking.

He said he feared the problem would worsen when longer licensing hours were brought in later this year.

Mr Wolfendale has claimed binge drinking posed a bigger challenge to police than terrorism.


SEE ALSO:
Police chief calls for 7 pint
12 Aug 05 |  Wales


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