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Restrictions urged on alcohol sales

More restrictions are needed to combat excessive alcohol consumption in the UK, a new report claims.

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics said taxes on drink need to be raised, while curbing hours when alcohol can be sold will also help reduce booze-related problems.

The study criticises the government for trying to use publicity campaigns and voluntary labelling schemes, saying these methods have little effect.

The research is also calling for an urgent assessment on the impact of 24-hour licensing on alcohol consumption.

It says the move is needed because the annual number of alcohol-related deaths doubled from just over 4,000 in 1991, to more than 8,000 in 2005.

The group names obesity, smoking, infectious disease and fluoridation of water as other areas where more needs to be done to improve public health.

Lord Krebs, who chaired the Nuffield Council committee which produced the report, said: "The government should implement tougher measures to tackle excessive drinking.

"There is also an urgent need for an analysis of the effect of extended opening hours on levels of alcohol consumption, as well as on anti-social behaviour."

The call for action comes as a coalition of 21 organisations headed by the Royal College of Physicians prepares to unveil a new Alcohol Health Alliance.

Nuffield Council on Bioethics

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