Brown to lead fight against UK binge-drinking

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London, Jan 2: As the seasonal celebrations get over, people resume work and resolutions are made for the new year, British Prime Minister Gordan Brown has taken up the charge to create a ''cultural shift'' away from binge drinking.

Mr Brown has taken personal charge of the battle against binge drinking amid increasing evidence of the damage it causes. Parents would be encouraged to educate their children in the dangers of drink under proposals discussed at a Downing Street summit. Measures such as raising the tax on the most potent beers and mixers associated with binge drinking by putting duty on units of alcohol are also being considered.

The government is also being urged by Labour MPs to force supermarkets to raise the minimum price of drink to reduce the attraction of cheap alcohol.

The emergency services revealed yesterday that they dealt with thousands of drink-related calls from New Year revellers. The London Ambulance Service said staff took up to 500 calls an hour in the early hours. Between midnight and 4am, the service dealt with 1,825 calls, an increase of 16 per cent on 2007.

Policy makers have agreed on the need for raising awareness, issuing advice and guidance to parents on the dangers and consequences of underage and binge drinking.

''It is clear that the solution lies beyond a stream of individual measures. It's about creating a cultural shift, having local co-ordination, better education and enforcement and individuals taking personal responsibility,'' the Independent quoted Mr Brown as saying.

Powers to implement the first 'Alcohol Disorder Zones' come into effect this month, giving local authorities the right to charge poorly managed pubs and clubs for the extra costs of managing alcohol-related disorder.

According to 2003 statistics, binge-drinking caused the country a loss of 20 billion pounds, with 17 million working days lost each year.


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