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Alcohol health plans "ineffective"

Plans by the Government and industry to reduce the problem of binge-drinking are not working, a study claims.

Public education schemes are failing to change behaviour or stop the harm caused by excessive alcohol consumption, the report in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) said.

Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians and Dr Nick Sheron, a liver specialist at Southampton University Hospital, said the number of deaths directly caused by alcohol almost doubled between 1991 and 2005.

They are now calling for increases in the price of booze to cut the number of fatalities.

"Drinking alcohol is a factor in more than half of violent crimes and a third of domestic violence," they said.

"Between 780,000 and 1.3 million children are affected by their parents' use of alcohol - 30 to 60% of child protection cases and 23% of calls to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children about child abuse or child neglect involved drunken adults."

But David Poley, chief executive of the alcohol industry body Portman Group, said: "International comparisons prove higher prices would not deter binge drinkers or people addicted to alcohol.

"As the number of adults drinking excessively continues to fall, measures to tackle misuse should focus on educating the minority who drink irresponsibly."

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