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Pub culture blamed for rising drinking problems

Plans to introduce tax rises on alcohol to combat excessive alcohol consumption and binge drinking was one of many timely topics debated at BMA's Annual Conference of Public Health Medicine on Friday.

The conference was concerned that the pub culture in our society is greatly contributing to rising alcohol-related morbidity and mortality and called for:

  • The government to ensure that all pubs and wine bars provide food to slow absorption of alcohol and reduce drunkenness.
  • Raised public awareness of the risks of drinking on an empty stomach.
  • A public campaign on the consequences of "buying rounds", which often leads to excessive drinking.
  • Pubs to provide more promotions on soft beverages and other nonalcoholic drinks compared with alcohol.
  • Soft drinks to be sold much cheaper than alcoholic drinks.
  • Increased taxation on drinks containing alcohol with taxation proportionate to the amount of alcohol in the product, not the quantity of liquid in the bottle.
  • Police to be able to undertake random static roadside breath testing on motorists, without the need for prior suspicion of intoxication.

Minister of State for Public Health, RT Hon Dawn Primarolo MP, said: "Alcohol is part of modern UK culture. We don't want to stop those who consume moderately and enjoy it. Many people are just drinking too much and we must stop those who binge drink and shape an environment that is less tolerant about drinking and drunkenness."

"The government is determined to reduce drug and alcohol-related harm. This is achievable, and I'm sure you'll agree," she concluded.

What can be done to change attitudes towards alcohol? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"Everyone should change their attitude that enjoyement comes only when you go to pubs or winebars. So we have to reduce the alcohol by avoiding drinks like coke etc. In my view it is not good to be a slave for alcohol and drinks." - Lakshmi, Guntur

"More support should be given to local initiatives trialing different approaches to tackling the problems. The problem with showy national measures like those listed is they betray a frightening (and smug) ignorance of drinking culture and bar economics. Although they are well-intentionned, they will in the case of measures 1, 3 and 6 actually increase the problems." - Campaigner for Responsible Drinking, Leeds