London, July 23 : British Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo has demanded that the drinks industry help tackle problems related to alcohol abuse, saying that boozing costs the country over 25 billion pounds a year.
She pointed out that booze-fuelled crime cost as much as 15billion pounds, while hangovers and days off caused by alcohol added about 7.4billion pounds more to the bill.
She even said that the NHS forked out 2.7billion pounds patching up injured drunks, and treating diseases caused by drinking.
Primarolo said that tough new laws would be enacted if a voluntary agreement to put clear labelling on cans and bottles - showing how many units of alcohol are inside, with warnings about daily and weekly safe drinking limits - still remained unobserved by the end of the year.
She said that the authorities might have to compel shops and off-licences to display graphic warnings about the dangers of booze.
According to reports, there is also a proposal to curb happy hours, along with regulations forcing pubs and bars to offer smaller measures.
Official data shows that more than 810,000 people need hospital treatment for illnesses linked to alcohol abuse in a year.
The worrying new figure includes diseases closely linked to alcohol like liver problems, cancer, heart disease, and strokes.
Ian Gillmore of the Royal College of Physicians pointed 25 per cent of drinkers were guzzling too much
"This is not just something affecting a small minority, it is affecting a large part of society. If we don't get to grips with the problem, it will have serious health repercussions," the Mirror quoted Gillmore as saying.
Other research ordered by Primarolo suggests that price is the key to cutting down on boozing.
However, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association believes that this strategy may lead to "higher prices for all responsible drinkers without solving the problem of alcohol misuse".