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The myths of boozed-up Britain

Mark Easton | 17:25 UK time, Friday, 8 January 2010

Saloon bar oracles sit with their half-empty glasses and put the world to rights. The British pub has long hosted the debates which answer every question: what to do about yobs, immigrants, bankers, queues, TV repeats, noisy neighbours and the weather? On one subject, the drinker counts himself particularly expert, of course - booze.

So, if the conversation at your local tonight comes round to the latest ideas on what we should do about the problems of alcohol, I have culled a few key points from the parliamentary report on the subject published today.

"Like the myth that the English have always been drunk, the contrast between English drunkenness and civilised Mediterranean habits may also be something of a myth," the MPs report. To back up their argument, they publish a graph which compares the level of death from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the UK with that in France, Italy and Spain.

SDR, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, 0-64 per 100000

What is revealed is how relatively small a problem alcohol-related deaths were in Britain in the early seventies when viewed against the carnage in southern Europe. However, over the next three decades, the picture was transformed.

"While the wine drinking countries of Southern Europe always had historically very high levels of liver deaths from alcohol related cirrhosis, deaths in these countries have been dropping whereas UK deaths are still rising inexorably. The UK finally overtook Spain, Italy and France for liver deaths in 2004."

The committee report publishes another graph which I find equally shocking. It takes that story of rising deaths from alcohol-related liver disease and places it in the context of mortality rates for other diseases.

Movements in mortality 1971-2007 (Deaths per million of population)

The story of alcohol in Britain has been one of what the MPs describe as a "massive increase" in the last fifty years. I have used this graph before - but it does bear repeating, I think.

a hundred years of alcohol consumption in the UK

While beer consumption appears to have risen only a little, sales of wines and spirits have soared since the Second World War. One consequence has been a very significant increase in the number of people dying from drink. Today's committee report puts it this way:

"The fact that alcohol has been enjoyed by humans since the dawn of civilization has tended to obscure the fact that it is also a toxic, dependence inducing teratogenic and carcinogenic drug to which more than three million people in the UK are addicted. The ill effects of alcohol misuse affect the young and middle aged. For men aged between 16 and 55 between 10% and 27% of deaths are alcohol related, for women the figures are 6% and 15%."

What has caused us to take to the bottle in this dangerous way? Rather than simply ask health experts or politicians, the committee invites historians to try and put our change in drinking habit in context. They identify two drivers: economics and culture.

Gin Lane (19th-Century engraving by Henry Adlard after the Hogarth original)They offer evidence of how cost and access effect consumption:

"(T)he 18th-Century gin craze was linked to the government's encouragement of gin production and restriction of brandy imports; the rise in consumption in the 19th Century was associated with rising living standards."

However, that nose-dive in alcohol consumption you can see on the graph in 1914 was the result of "the most sustained attempt to come to grips with drink in British history":

"Measures included shorter opening hours, higher duties on beer, and significant reductions in both the production and strength of beer. The amount of beer consumed in 1918 was nearly half of the pre-war total, despite rising incomes, and arrests for drunkenness in England and Wales fell from 190,000 to 29,000 between 1913 and 1918."

The historians also point to important cultural effects. One observed a decline in drinking in the late 19th Century and suggested that this was due to "many counter-attractions for working-class consumers (music halls, football, cigarettes, and holidays)".

Despite the Depression, most workers saw real wages increase between the wars. However, spending on alcohol remained stable, it was argued, "because drink had many rivals now: radios and gramophones, gardening, cinema and the pools".

This argument doesn't hold true for post-war Britain, however, where there are now more potential distractions from alcohol than ever. The historians explained that drinking alcohol just became the fashionable thing to do. In the 1940s, "young people preferred milk bars and coffee bars to pubs", but booze became much more available with supermarket sales and a relaxed licensing regime. A "drinking culture" developed, particularly among students, the committee was told.

The MPs put the theory to Varsity Leisure Group, owner of the "Carnage UK" brand which, they said, had become "unfairly or otherwise, a notorious example of a promoter of nightclub events for students". The company said that its events were "based around collective identity, meeting new people and having fun", but admitted that "students are being immersed into a culture which is focussed around the culture of alcohol".

Whatever the cause, the result is a country with a significant drink problem. The figures quoted by the committee give the lie to the claim that alcohol is responsibly consumed by all but a minority.

Ten million adults drink more than the recommended limits and between them knock back 75% of all alcohol consumed in the country. More than two-and-a-half million adults (8% of men and 6% of women) drink above the higher-risk levels - more than double the government's daily guidelines.

So, if you pop into the boozer tonight and the oracle bemoans the proposal to try and outlaw cheap alcohol, you could quote today's report which says this:

"It is not inevitable that per capita alcohol consumption should be almost three times higher than it was in the middle of the 20th Century or that liver disease should continue to rise. Nor is it inevitable that at night town centres should be awash with drunks, vomit and disorder. These changes have been fuelled by cheap booze, a liberal licensing regime and massive marketing budgets."

That should get the debate flowing nicely.

Comments

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  • 1. At 6:28pm on 08 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Gets out few planks tap tap ding Soap Box :D
    Interesting piece Mark and one that requires little thought to see how the use of the drug alcohol has been used since 1970 as the imposed drug of choice wasn't there a huge decrease in price around about 1968 to stimulate the market?
    Its also interesting to map cannabis to this debate the dip in 2004 in sales per ltr per adult, 2004 was a good year for cannabis.

    A lot of studies also show important protein and receptor damage occurring the brain when alcohol is used this mostly leads to depression which again is as another of your blogs points out has a 34 million prescription rate for treatment it would be interesting to see how many of these prescriptions were for over use of alcohol even if the patient didn't think they were over using.

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  • 2. At 6:28pm on 08 Jan 2010, SanGabriel wrote:

    Excellent. I have been awaiting this discussion for some time and would like to add Kate Fox's recent book "Watching the English" to the debate.

    Fox notes repeatedly that the English at least find alcohol essential for virtually all socializing; that the English are so incredibly awkward socially that alcohol is a social lubricant of necessity across all classes and ages.

    Beyond the inescapable fact that Brits, like everyone else, are highly responsive to marketing (hence the cell phone and bottled water crazes), I suspect that there is a strong germ of truth in Fox's argument.

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  • 3. At 6:39pm on 08 Jan 2010, Kit Green wrote:

    You state "While beer consumption appears to have risen only a little....." but I find it interesting that in the late 80s to early 90s beers went through a trend of increasing strength.

    Back in those days there were far more people visiting pubs during their work lunchbreak than do so now. I stopped doing this before it became less acceptable generally because all the draught beers increased in strength from what I think was an average of 3.5% up to an average of about 5%. This is an increase of over 40%.

    This general increase in alcoholic content seems to coincide with the steepening curve for liver disease in your first graph. Have the researchers made the simple mistake of looking at the volume of beer sold without factoring in the increase in strength?

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  • 4. At 6:42pm on 08 Jan 2010, pvandck wrote:

    You write:
    "Like the myth that the English have always been drunk, the contrast between English drunkenness and civilised Mediterranean habits may also be something of a myth," the MPs report. To back up their argument, they publish a graph which compares the level of death from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the UK with that in France, Italy and Spain...

    It looks for all the world like you trying to conflate alcohol consumption together with it's deleterious effect on health, on the one hand, with the drunkenness one commonly associates with belligerence and antisocial behaviour (so famous in Britain), on the other.

    Whether it's a myth depends not on the graphs (which show what show), but on the way you choose to phrase it.

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  • 5. At 6:55pm on 08 Jan 2010, Doctor Bob wrote:

    Excellent article, Mark. Thank you.

    But the government with its usual aplomb turns a blind eye to the entire problem. It was persuaded to deregulate licensing hours by the booze lobby and is unlikely to change things now - especially when booze is almost the last bastion of easy tax takes.

    The government only cares about appeasing said lobby. It is not interested in the health of the boozing public or the misery and expense it causes - or it would have done something pretty draconian years ago.

    Cannabis? Nope, reclassify it to B. Alcohol? Hold on a moment, we rake in huge taxes from it...sure, we know people are dying, that it fuels violence and crime; that emergency services are overstretched and that responsible drinkers are drinking well over the suggested limit, but we do need the money...and don't want to damage our "popularity" even further.

    It's a fair bet that TRULY responsible drinkers would be happy to see licensing hours limited and supermarkets (that are represented on the booze lobby obviously) denied a license to sell alcohol. In the 1970s very few supermarkets were allowed to sell alcohol.

    Anyway, the increase in alcohol consumption should put paid to the "ageing population" the people born between 1940 and 1970, who lived pretty healthily.

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  • 6. At 7:10pm on 08 Jan 2010, roister wrote:

    Interesting. Number of points I'd like to make. (1) When the recommended figures for personal consumption of alcohol were produced in the 1950's, or so, my understanding is that they are arbitrary , without rationale . (2) The demographics, and working habits, of the UK have changed inexorably. We are no longer a manufacturing nation, and the majority of workers are skilled, or white collar workers. They simply do not burn off what they consume , be it "beer" or food. (3) As someone who knows about the idea of what the night time economy is , I believe the govt.'s relaxation of licensing laws has had a massively detrimental impact on our society , all for the sheckle.

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  • 7. At 7:32pm on 08 Jan 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    In earlier times water was dangerous to drink so beer was the good alternative....for health reasons.
    Governments tax alcohol and love to tax alcohol for the revenue...low sales low revenue. Governments seldom do things that reduce tax streams. Like smoking, until it is shown that the costs are greater than the revenue (and for political reasons this may not be true)the governments take no action or at least take some actions but always with an eye on keeping the taxes conming in. Government policy: Reduce drinking...raise taxes...maintain revenue.
    Having a sober population may be dangerous for the ruling class.

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  • 8. At 7:34pm on 08 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Mark how about Prime Time TV for promoting alcohol to our nation as the normal thing.
    Eastenders Pubs n clubs
    Holby City and casualty Both end up in the pub or the Doc's getting hammered.
    How much of the Drug Alcohol is actually included in BBC programing? and does this have the same influence on drinking in the UK as the supermarkets and cheap booze offers?

    Would we see a change in habit if the BBC showed programs with no alcohol in?

    If Eastenders was set in a Coffee shop/Medical Cannabis dispensary serving up Cannabis products in all forms every night of the week to prime time viewers would you expect to see a rise in cannabis use?

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  • 9. At 7:38pm on 08 Jan 2010, tacrepus wrote:

    One thing not touched upon, but which is probably the most significant change in the last thirty years, is the actual volume of alcohol content in each drink. Thirty years ago most beers had an alcohol content of 3.5% to 4.00%. Now the ABV content is commonly in excess of 5%. At the minimum this means drink for drink, beer drinker are consuming 20% more pure alcohol than they did a generation ago.

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  • 10. At 7:47pm on 08 Jan 2010, mtconleyuk wrote:

    I wonder how much of the liver damage might be exacerbated by the use of paracetemol, which, although developed in the late 19th century, was begun to be seriously marketed in the 1950s (Panadol), and which overtook aspirin as the analgesic of choice in the US and UK in the late 1970s and early 1980s — oddly enough, just about when the UK liver failure rate started climbing, according to the above charts. If alcohol is present, paracetemol can cause liver damage or failure at much lower than the recommended dosage.

    So we have increasing alcohol consumption and increasing concetration of alcohol in beer and other drinks, coupled with increasing use of a drug which can cause liver failure and whose effects are magnified if alcohol is present, and which could well be used by lots of people as part of a hangover treatment.

    Or not. Just a thought.

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  • 11. At 7:56pm on 08 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Ibuprofen tends to be the pain killer of choice as you can still drink as they would put it safely.. Although I do remember as kids a bottle of Merrydown Gold and a DG sorted you out just right...

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  • 12. At 8:07pm on 08 Jan 2010, jarl wrote:

    A *relatively* minor point but: according to the report itself the graph showing "movement in mortality" actually graphs death as a result of *all* liver diseases, not just those related to alcohol.

    The report states that:
    "Mortality from liver disease is regarded as one of the best barometers of alcohol related ill health. Between 1970 and 2000 deaths from liver disease in people aged under 65 increased fivefold, while death rates from other diseases have declined, as figure 6 shows"

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  • 13. At 8:17pm on 08 Jan 2010, Tim Barton wrote:

    It is definitely a cultural thing. As a Brit who has spent the last 2 years in Vancouver, Canada, I can tell you that the culture here is centered around coffee and coffee shops. People hang out in them late at night, like you'd do in a bar in the UK. Only a lot less noisy. Not sure if anyone manages to sleep either.

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  • 14. At 8:21pm on 08 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Alcohol worsens and causes mental health problems we need to stop looking at just the liver as an indicator of Alcohol drug use .
    http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/information/mental-health-a-z/alcohol/#Relationship
    Alcohol accounts for more mental health problems than cannabis does world wide.
    Lets get the whole picture going here and not just the distractions the government want you to follow on this Drug problem

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  • 15. At 8:30pm on 08 Jan 2010, Pete wrote:

    I can see the second graph is going up but that's from a very low base. The first graph tells us that around one in 50,000 working age people had potentially alcohol-related liver disease in the 1970s and this has gone up to about one in 10,000. This compares to road accident fatalities (lifetime risk of 1 in 240) and the risks from all the other diseases quoted (cancer, diabetes, heart disease etc) which are far greater but thankfully have dipped. I'm not downplaying its seriousness but there's a danger of losing perspective when we focus on percentage changes from very low bases rather than the actual incident levels.

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  • 16. At 8:34pm on 08 Jan 2010, ModernBritain wrote:

    Something seems to have happened around 1993 in the liver cirrhosis graph and the rate increases dramatically. How long does cirrhosis typically take to develop and what might have caused this? Regardless of health issues, the social inhibition on public drunkenness is much higher abroad and something we could do with developing

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  • 17. At 9:00pm on 08 Jan 2010, Pete wrote:

    quote "Something seems to have happened around 1993 in the liver cirrhosis graph and the rate increases dramatically. How long does cirrhosis typically take to develop and what might have caused this?"

    If the average age of a person diagnosed with cirrhosis was late 40s to 50 then some of it might be demographic - eg baby boomers - combined with people drinking a lot more.

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  • 18. At 9:42pm on 08 Jan 2010, fictionalemu wrote:

    I'm sorry, where are the 'myths' that your headline implies you'll be debunking? As far as I can see the only one is that Britain has had a historical drinking problem compared to Europe, whereas in fact it's only a modern one. The rest of the article simply states what we all know: that Britain has a huge drinking problem while other parts of the continent are improving theirs.

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  • 19. At 9:48pm on 08 Jan 2010, BloggsandCo wrote:

    Having lived through the period before the start of the steep(er) rise to date, it seems to me that the problem is a combination of the change in the manner, as well as the actual stuff, that people drink.

    Before 1985-ish the concept of going to one's local to drink beer, if one was male, or staying at home looking after the kids, if female, was a norm. Wine was not drunk in any quantity. There was time to have serious hobbies or maybe to do some kind of voluntary activity. In any case there were plenty of things to occupy time that kept one away from drink. Particularly in the case of under 18s.

    Since then that has all changed. Pubs are disappearing by the 10's weekly. Much more time is spent at work. The pursuit of enough money to "live" has become all consuming, for both partners in a relationship. Just look at the increase in the number of hours worked per week. There is no time for other activities of any kind.

    But drink is an easy escape mechanism. It is portable and available. The quaffable stuff such as beer and wine is stronger, per unit volume, than previously. Then there a number of new easier to drink forms such as alcopops or other "crossover" drinks designed to hide the taste of spirits in familiar, non-alcoholic (usually sugary) beverages.

    The barrier to entry to drinking has reduced for the young, with alcopops et al. They see drink all around them with no interesting alternatives. Schools don't have after school clubs anymore. The traditional youth organisations are largely irrelevant and, in any case, can't get staff because adults don't have the time/energy to spare. And now they have to be vetted to within a inch of their lives anyway.

    In the meantime we have a rise in the concept of "clubbing" (and near equivalents) where people come together and get "ratted" as their only means of communal entertainment. The "clubs" may be real or notional (in the case of under 18s) - they are not about sitting and/or talking quietly and drinking a few pints over an evening - they are about binging, in as short time as possible.

    So why on earth is anyone surprised at the outcome?

    Don't even start me on the role of the media and our weak governments in all of this.

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  • 20. At 9:50pm on 08 Jan 2010, Kit Green wrote:

    10. At 7:47pm on 08 Jan 2010, mtconleyuk wrote:
    I wonder how much of the liver damage might be exacerbated by the use of paracetemol, which, although developed in the late 19th century, was begun to be seriously marketed in the 1950s.........
    ------------------------------------------------

    I agree that many factors have an influence on liver disease.

    As I have already mentioned in my comment at #3 the alcohol level of drinks has increased. I mentioned beer but wine has also increased from a typical 11% to perhaps 13% now.

    As for paracetamol this in fact only appeared in the 50s although there were related chemicals for decades before:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paracetamol

    There have also been constant scares about liver damage due to artificial sweeteners. Cyclamate,saccharin and others have been linked to health problems. There are also many other artificial additives that have arrived in the last few decades so I would suggest that liver disease, even if primarily linked to alcohol, has been influenced by an ever increasing amount of artificial dietry chemicals as well as certain medicines.

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  • 21. At 10:39pm on 08 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    macrophages is what it seems its all about in the liver and a super charged immune system trying to adapt to the damage.

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  • 22. At 00:02am on 09 Jan 2010, Alan Trent wrote:

    Our current drinking habits and the problems they cause might not be inevitable. But state intervention into citizen’ private matters such as what they choose to eat and drink is also not inevitable.

    I sometimes wonder how often the political class (which is the same thing as the journalist class,) contemplate a social issue and decide - well it isn’t really any of our business - my guess would by never.


    Neo prohibitionists will of course argue that as the state pays for our healthcare it has a right to direct those aspects of our lives the impact on our health and therefore the cost of healthcare

    This is a false argument - the state might fund healthcare but it is the taxpayer i.e. the private citizen who funds the state. If the private citizen has decided for whatever reason it prefers a hard drinking lifestyle so be it. Public sector employees have no mandate and should not have the power to prohibit a private choice by meddling in the market to make choices they don’t like unaffordable.

    I know this line of argument is wasted on modern journalists and politicians they are so steeped a statist view of every aspect of life that they probably think libertarian is an astrological sign.

    So prepare for de facto prohibition of alcohol - people don’t want it but the state does and the will of the state will be imposed.

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  • 23. At 00:14am on 09 Jan 2010, ThoughtCrime wrote:

    Of course one thing this government is extremely bad at accepting is that sometimes we can read their official guidelines and make an informed decision to ignore them. Just like we might read the sign that says "swim at your own risk" and decide to go swimming.

    Recommended alcohol limits used to be quoted on a weekly basis - 28 for men and 21 for women. Quoting them on a daily basis causes them to lose credibility - how many people will go to the pub, drink a pint, and then decline a second pint because it would push them over the arbitrary 3 or 4 units per day? But based on the new guidelines having a second pint makes someone an "irresponsible drinker" - this is clearly absurd. Put the fourth pint down your neck and you're now a "binge drinker", which is equally absurd.

    So while those with a serious alcohol problem are probably in denial about the scale of it the government guidelines alienate the essentially responsible drinker by putting ridiculous tags on their normal behaviour.

    On a purely practical note we might look at the nature of drinking establishments. The pub used to be a place a working man went for some space from his family. Then pubs became more female friendly, which was a good thing for all sorts of reasons. But now pubs have turned into more family friendly places, which means that they no longer offer a refuge from children - I rarely visit the pubs in my area because during the day they are over-run with badly behaved children and in the evenings they are too busy. So the place where we might go to talk over a beer or two is now either an eatery/babysitter or a place where tables and chairs are removed and the music is loud.

    If you can't talk because the music is so loud you drink more. If you can't put your drink down because the tables are gone you drink more. So instead of being a social establishment the pub has become a place where you just pour a pint down your neck and order the next one. The tradition of buying rounds in large groups also doesn't help - who wants to buy a round for 6 people and then not stay until everyone else has bought their round?

    Perhaps if we put the focus back on the social aspect and less on the alcohol aspect we'd at least stand a chance of reversing a trend.

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  • 24. At 01:04am on 09 Jan 2010, gmoran wrote:

    I'm not sure what you are saying. Are you advocating prohibition of some sort? How much of my/our behaviour do you want to control?

    Don't you think Britain is authoritarian, iliberal and intolerant enough as it is?

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  • 25. At 01:05am on 09 Jan 2010, Simon Harvey wrote:

    The medical issues are undeniable and important, but cultural questions are something else. Compared with those parts of continental Europe where I have spent time (France, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland) we behave very badly when we are drinking or have been drinking. We have a culture of lousy behaviour that gets amplified by booze and that makes British town centres quite frightening places on Friday and Saturday nights. You won't see a Frenchman's liver decaying, but you will see his attitude towards you, and it's the differences in attitudes that strike you when you leave Blighty and travel around the European mainland.

    The only European city out of the fair few that I have visited in which I have noticed any real loutishness is the central part of Prague — and the culprits are always British. I've been visiting Prague and Brno for 13 years. The Czechs can, and often do, drink like fish, but they remain civil and non-violent until the moment they fall off their chairs.

    Oikishness is a British cultural problem. It is vastly amplified by alcohol, but that's not where its origins lie.

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  • 26. At 02:06am on 09 Jan 2010, Patrick Too wrote:

    Instead of penalising people for drinking too much - why doesn't "A" Government put a little research into WHY people are drinking so much? Could it be because they might be unhappy? Maybe - if we dealt with the inequalities of life - and hey - if it means a little redistribution of wealth then so be it! Or maybe we could look at improving mental health support services in the country??? - Help folk to be happier in the first place, then they won't need to drown their sorrows so much. I believe it's called "Cause and Effect". We spend too much time trying to 'mop up' the effect and not enough time dealing with "The Causes".

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  • 27. At 02:15am on 09 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    hmmm Alan
    'This is a false argument - the state might fund health care but it is the taxpayer i.e. the private citizen who funds the state. If the private citizen has decided for whatever reason it prefers a hard drinking lifestyle so be it. Public sector employees have no mandate and should not have the power to prohibit a private choice by meddling in the market to make choices they don’t like unaffordable.'

    I don't think that washes somehow.

    I use a safer option Cannabis for which I'm bent over and spanked by the institution for so why not alcohol or is that special?

    24# :)I'm not sure what you are saying. Are you advocating prohibition of some sort? How much of my/our behaviour do you want to control?

    Don't you think Britain is authoritarian, liberal and intolerant enough as it is?

    Prohibit dangerous substances for public health never o.O

    25# The only European city out of the fair few that I have visited in which I have noticed any real loutishness is the central part of Prague — and the culprits are always British. I've been visiting Prague and Brno for 13 years. The Czechs can, and often do, drink like fish, but they remain civil and non-violent until the moment they fall off their chairs.

    well Drug intoxication across the board has been tolerated in Czech so I guess they also smoke a lot of herb amongst other things.

    Far to much for Nanny and her Bottle.

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  • 28. At 03:06am on 09 Jan 2010, jobsw32 wrote:

    If you cut production the price will rise just as well as a minumum price. Nobody is saying that you can't have a drink but if you cause damage through drinking then it needs to be paid for.

    I'm not the government it's not my place to tell people what to do, what is legal or not, but clearly they want people to think about the impact on the rest of society, the economy and the health of others as well.

    Either way, even if you abstain from drinking, life is such that it can still get you one way or another. If you don't drink you can still end up struck in an accident, as happened in the case of that poor teacher of religious education.

    'My beloved planted a vinyard and looked for grapes, but it bore wild grapes'.

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  • 29. At 08:28am on 09 Jan 2010, newshounduk wrote:

    It's funny how whenever we have a problem the government's answer is to put the price up.Couldn't be anything to do with increased tax could it?

    Moderate alcohol consumption is fine for most people though there will be some e.g. those on medication which conflicts with alcohol for whom even moderate consumption is unhealthy and potentially dangerous.

    Prolonged consumption of alcohol at current levels is also unhealthy and unwise given that for most drivers a glass or two puts them over the legal limit.

    If current levels of alcohol in alcoholic drinks are too high and producing adverse effects then the simple answer is to lower the levels.

    Another possibility is to introduce massive £1000 fines ( or higher) for binge drinkers or those who are drunk in the street.Regular binge drinkers could face incremental fines for each offence or could be compulsorily put into rehab to wean them off alcohol making them less dependent on it.

    Yet another possibility is to reduce availability or access to alcohol.

    The government needs to adopt a "prevention is better than cure" approach rather than letting people become alcoholics and drunks who make unnecessary and expensive demands on the NHS and the police.


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  • 30. At 10:18am on 09 Jan 2010, bigsammyb wrote:

    Making a graph showing people dying from liver cancer hardly demonstrates drinking habits.

    The British have been binge drinkers since celtic times. We used to drink large amounts of cider, eat magic mushrooms and go in to battle naked for goodness sake.

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  • 31. At 10:55am on 09 Jan 2010, grumpynotoldman wrote:

    See your own town and the encroachment of Tesco, Sainsbury and Co-op local shops importing cheap alcohol deals into the locale, and pushing out Threshers and previously Unwins (always expensive).
    All the mention of strength (%alc by volume) is valid, and deliberately organised to capture more people into dependence ( consuming more to get the same effect) at a younger age.
    Liver problems are happening to more women at younger ages than previously, precisely because of this.
    Big Alcohol like it's bedfellows Big Tobacco, and Big Pharma do exactly what they want until someone (anyone) stands up to their bullying psychopathic drug dealing activity.(Ask yourself how we come to have 3 million Benzodiazepine addicts in this country)
    This government and the majority of MP's enjoy subsidised alcohol in their unregulated bars at Westminster.
    Many of them are lobbied relentlessly by the manufactureres, distributors and retailers and their employees.
    The Medalin cartel don't get invited to the table for consultations do they? Well not yet!
    Apart from minimum pricing (a highly effect population level consumption control measure) the debate needs to include Availabiltiy, the relative ease with which alcohol is available and distributed in every locality.
    Using the Impact assessment bit of the Licencing act might actually work here to reduce outlets!
    Tesco tend to ignore local authorities though!
    As an aside, but highly relevent to the debate about young people's consumption, ask yourself why the alcohol industry is so enthusiastic about involvement in PSHE alcohol and other drugs education for 7 year olds?

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  • 32. At 11:01am on 09 Jan 2010, Rob wrote:

    Its a shame you didn't mention the lull in alcohol sales the end of the 80's / early 90's. This was due rave culture and ecstasy; a social experience where alcohol was a dirty word. I think generally you are correct in that alcohol is cheaper and advertised more than ever. But also think about our attitude since the 1980's; it is good to want more! So instead of being satisfied with a single glass of wine, or pint of beer to lubricate our social awkwardness, we think we need several glasses of wine, multiple pints of beer...oh and just for good measure.. a zambuka...or wash it all down with a brandy...one for the road....etc. Perhaps we need to learn the concept of 'enough', or understand that we can be satisfied with less.

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  • 33. At 11:15am on 09 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    So this drug is getting stronger shambles :D

    Time to run from the cure folks.
    Proteins found in hemp when used with alcohol reduce liver damage and aid in faster protein receptor repair.
    http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=6812

    I have yet to see one argument for keeping alcohol cheap and available to anyone in society and the more we learn of the damage to proteins in the body the less evidence there is to prove alcohol is safe as an intoxicant.

    now responsible users will argue that in moderation and educated drinking has no harms to them and is supported by government. Moderate and lite users can go jump in the river you haven't a leg or a receptor to stand on in this argument. petrol is also a good intoxicant runs engine's as well just like this safe ethanol drug you all rabbit on about, yet fail to see and association that its also a potent hand wash that kills biological organisms.. or do humans not count as biological organisms?

    If after all this debate nothing happens about this lethal drug alcohol than ALL government drug and health policy has no foundation and should be ignored at all costs.

    2010 is going to be a very revealing year with regard to social drugs, I know from the organisations I'm part of and work the BBC is doing with members of these groups that The Cannabis movement is about to explode in the UK in a very good way the Vail of lies is going to be lifted from the UK public(sheep) over drugs and the true harms.

    http://www.yaletrials.org/clinicalTrials/displayTrial.asp?nctID=NCT00624715&trialListing=Y&row=42

    http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=3475#12

    http://blog.norml.org/2009/10/19/obama-administration-new-medical-marijuana-guidelines-are-issued/

    Even if the government of the UK fails to protect its citizens from harm its citizens wont fail.


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  • 34. At 11:30am on 09 Jan 2010, roughneck wrote:

    One problem with drinking today is the sheer strength of the product. Whan I was 18, "cooking" bitters like Watneys Starlight and Whitbread Trophy were barely legal as alcohol - certainly well less than 3% content. And mild, a real session beer, has disappeared from the market. Now average beers seem to be 4.5%, and much stronger beers are commonly available. In the Seventies, only specially brewed beers - such as Christmas ales - would reach that strength. While you could always reach oblivion quickly with barley wine, and spirits were the same strength as now, sociable drinking with a couple of pints was less damaging - and more convivial, with the conversation taking much longer to deteriorate into the slurred aggression we see so much of today. It would be no bad thing to price alcohol more strictly to deter strong drinks more, while giving social drinking without massive intoxication another chance. At least give us a choice! The other aspect is obesity - more alcohol equals more calories - and at my advanced age it is the calories I worry more about - a pint of strong beer is like eating a hamburger.

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  • 35. At 11:46am on 09 Jan 2010, desabled wrote:

    nobody has mentioned the increase in stress related illness in the same fifty years the pace of life has increased faster than the increase in alcohol consumption but the gap between rich and poor the race to keep up withthe wants and needs of an over materialistic society all contribute massively no stress related illness,often related to alcohol mis use andmental illness all these are relatedincreasing the cost of alcohol will merely increase indebtedness and theft as those less financially able seek to feed their habit in the way class a drug abusers sometimes do if you want to curb alcohol abuse the stresses of modern day life must some how be lessened otherwiserates of mis use will continue punishing the responsible sends the wrong message to soocietyit ios wrong doersand irrresponsibility which should be stopped
    if you can defrentiare between them leave it alone

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  • 36. At 12:02pm on 09 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Desabled nice try but as its still in the public interest to prosecute Cannabis users again no argument for not doubling the price of alcohol none of what you talk about is relevant in the current method of thought imposed by government policy.

    millions of people use cannabis medically responsibly with no harm to anyone yet are criminalised in the public interest.

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  • 37. At 1:29pm on 09 Jan 2010, kaybraes wrote:

    Increasing prices, will have little or no effect on the amount of alchohol consumed, if the cigarette case is used as an example. Drunks will find the money from somewhere, probably from the same source as the junkies, crime.As far as the Saturday night binge drinkers are concerned, a night in a holding tank and a hefty fine plus the costs of arresting and holding them would go a long way towards cutting down the problem. As for alchoholics and the backstreet wine drinkers, stop treating them as though they were sick and not just over indulgent and the problem will literally die off.

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  • 38. At 1:43pm on 09 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Still a very soft aproach there Kay.
    How about a week behind bars for the alcohol trouble makers after all were talking about imposing responcable behaviour on Drug use in the UK.

    A week damn think of the consiquences loss of job leading to loss of home etc etc the same stigmas that cannabis users are faced with.

    Drunken assult should have a 1 month cool of in mental health institutions before any crime is tried just for being mentaly unsafe under the mental health acts.

    Now that would go a long way to sort out Alcohol Drug Abuse would it not.

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  • 39. At 2:39pm on 09 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    How about simply change the molocule dah da

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1241069/Ex-drugs-tsar-creates-synthetic-alcohol-gives-buzz-hangover.html

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  • 40. At 2:54pm on 09 Jan 2010, MaryJames wrote:

    thank you community criminal for putting the case for cannabis so eloquently and with so much restraint.
    i think that the motivation for the governments of the world to ease up on cannabis will be the medical movement in the US. so much benefit could be had from the hemp plant but bad politics and vested interests keep it illegal and demonised.

    our politicians are far too worried that the right wing newspaper proprietors will deem them "soft on drugs" and damage their careers for them to champion cannabis but i feel that legalising it would go a long way towards countering the massive damage done by alcohol.

    no victim no crime is still true today.

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  • 41. At 3:53pm on 09 Jan 2010, stanilic wrote:

    It is interesting to note that the increase in liver disease in the UK matches the period in which the public house was forced into decline by interfering legislators.

    I have often said that the old system of licensing magistrates and the police working together kept the drink under control both socially and medically.

    But then protecting the vast profits of the supermarkets is more important to the state than the fate of the British pub.

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  • 42. At 3:57pm on 09 Jan 2010, Rolf McHarris wrote:

    When it comes to alcohol, something is clearly wrong with the British mind:

    I lived in France for seven years. I saw ONE French person drunk in all that time. He was sitting on a bench.

    I visited the UK for one weekend, I saw at least TWENTY or THIRTY people drunk in that time. Some of them were fighting in the street.

    That's not the fault of the Government.

    Or parents.

    Or schools.

    Or alchohol being readily available.


    It's down to individuals having no self control!








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  • 43. At 4:25pm on 09 Jan 2010, Doctor Bob wrote:

    #8. CommunityCriminal wrote:
    "Would we see a change in habit if the BBC showed programs with no alcohol in?"

    - - - - - - - - - -

    Interesting point. The Nosmo King lobby managed to get smoking banned from soaps IIRC. Of course, Norman Tebbit came on saying, "Right, so we can have drunkenness, domestic violence, underage sex, unwanted pregnancies, adultery and drug abuse but no smoking - it may encourage people to smoke.

    Ah well.....

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  • 44. At 4:28pm on 09 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    MaryJ sorry little manic today due to weather n xmas had no meds untill today 9 days of no self control....

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  • 45. At 4:58pm on 09 Jan 2010, Dave wrote:

    Midland20 makes a terrific point.

    Moreover, food and obesity is the next "problem" we are told.

    Both "food as reward" and drink based social acceptance are aggressively pushed as life models on british television. The large advertising breaks are full of food adverts, reminding the watcher to - guess what - eat some more during the convenient break.

    The content is dominated by images of drink, and drink based social models, reminding the watcher every minute to - you guessed it - establish their own life in the same models as soon as they interact with the world outside television.

    If the British do not wish to earn the inevitable results of immoderate drinking and a bizarre relationship with food then they should remove this conditioning from daily life.

    It will be futile to look to legislation or financial penalties for a solution: the british culture as a commercial target should not be left for sale to the highest bidder so as to manipulate for profit using any strongly conditioning media of their choice, and mainstream television in particular.

    That done, UK society may start to heal itself.

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  • 46. At 6:57pm on 09 Jan 2010, FatPeace - A Promise to Heather wrote:

    Dave (#45)
    I don't know where you've been living for the last five years, but wherever it is you've apparently not read any newspapers or websites or watched any TV. If you had, you'd realise that our 'bizarre relationship with food' as you put it has become absolutely central to our media and public policy landscape. Endless TV shows focusing on weight loss, to the point that this January 'obesity season' and with at least forty different such programmes being aired in primetime by various stations, I've rediscovered the radio and read more books than in the previous five years. Every other commercial is for a diet plan, weight-loss drug or a trailer for an upcoming piece of reality 'belly telly'. The 'Health' sections of most UK newspapers and websites could in the last year have been re-labelled 'Obesity and Weight', such is the prevalance of reports of the latest 'terrifying' (and usually contradictory) research into the 'greatest threat of our time'. Moreover, it remains the single topic on which the BBC apparently has no intention to exercise its charter requirements of impartial and unbiased reportage on scientific / medical issues with public policy implications (most recently producing a Magazine article advocating wartime-style calorie rationing as a potentially acceptable policy response to the 'obesity epidemic'). I therefore don't see too much evidence of food industry involvement in the current demonisation of fat.

    So if anything I believe we're all being systematically conditioned to fear food and its alleged consequences for our collective waistline far more than is natural or healthy, to the point that it's become a national and unavoidable obsession. The diet industry is now almost as profitable as Big Food; add in the current vogue for the dangerous gastric origami known as weight-loss surgery and the veritable cornucopia of diet pills hurriedly approved by Govt in recent years and there can't be much in it. I watched a TV show last night highlighting the 'collateral damage' being caused by the war on fat people; this rare piece of counter-argument depicted children being indoctrinated by their so-called 'healthy schools' through lessons and the policing / prohibition of food intake to view fat as the worst thing they can be, to become phobic toward what are actually not inevitable outcomes of so-called 'obesity' but slightly elevated statistical risks, and to consider certain foods somehow evil and not to be eaten even in moderation. This incessant indoctrination, reinforced by peers and the increasingly obsessive, harmful weight-loss strategies of their equally terrified / brainwashed parents, is resulting in five year-olds who understand calories and GDAs, eight and nine year-olds obsessed with exercise and the shape of their bodies and a teenage generation who both consider being slightly larger to be social death (evidenced by a tenfold increase in harassment and bullying of those considered of excessive BMI) and any means necessary, including eating disordered behaviour, justifiable to avoid this catastrophe of not being thin. So yes, I think the preoccupation with obesity has gone much too far much too quickly and that some redressing of the balance is needed before we end up with fat people being openly attacked on the streets and all manner of repressive legislation aimed at 'protecting us from ourselves' being enacted without the populace ever having been consulted on whether this is what we desire or consider to be the appropriate response.

    I'm also irritated (though not particularly surprised given the liberal hypocrisy over exempting drug use from their list of 'sins') to see so many advocating excessive and unjustified state intervention in our eating and drinking choices in one sentence and drug liberalisation in the next. if you beleive in the infallibility of the expert, surely you should also accept the studies that suggest how both cannabis and cocaine have been correlated with an increased risk of various psychological problems? If you support a prohibitionist and statist model, it's illogical to give these substances a free pass just because they happen to be the poisons of choice of the journalistic and political class (and with the use of cocaine in particular apparently being epidemic amongst the London-based liberal media I'm not sure how we can ever have a balanced debate on its availability). As a social (if not necessarily an economic) libertarian I tend to think that our bodies belong to us rather than 'the collective' and that what we choose to put into them is entirely our concern provided no-one else is unduly harmed by it (thus I support greater punishment, using existing laws, of those who behave in a violent fashion after drinking). However as Alan Trent (#22) makes clear, we are very much in the minority in a public policy landscape that has accepted the inevitability of ever-increasing Government interference in aspects of life previously considered the domain of the individual, and where even the 'impartial' BBC always begins articles about the particular moral panic do jour with the presumption that official policy action is necessary.

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  • 47. At 7:24pm on 09 Jan 2010, Dave wrote:

    The F Word, River Cottage endlessness, Jamie, Raymond, James Martin, Oz Clarke and James May do "chaps drinking correctly", The dinner party competition programme, etc etc etc etc etc - pretty much all about weight loss indoctrination for sure. Must have missed that in the write ups for some reason.

    However, I relate even less to the later stages of this reply as they do not appear to relate at all to my own, but as far as food and drink is concerned Richie79 makes my point for me - the weight loss thing is all about FOOD AND DRINK is it not? Hence the massive presence of such luminaries as Professor Tesco.... The more screen time the more obsession - the more influence to sell us "different".

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  • 48. At 9:22pm on 09 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Being in feast mode is again cannabis protein and hormone related.
    the post before was meant to be thanks MJ bit of random rewiring going on I think :)
    Anyway back to booze and the old liver.. Another option is to add additives to alcoholic drinks to treat the liver during drink consumption or will that mess with the drug Alcohol to much you know add a few proteins to it to allow the liver to cope with the onslaught of toxic ethanol its attempting to process.

    something has to change does it not? prohibition on alcohol wont work as it like cannabis is natural in nature. History has proven prohibition of either just leads to wide scale crime and unjust social punishments, ill health through contamination. In cannabis case wide spread social illness through it NOT being in our diets and cannabis should be thought of along with other supplements like vitamins and minerals in the health and well being of the human body as a food product the chemicals/proteins it gives us run our most vital of systems.

    Now what about Alcohol psychosis the event were alcohol interference and suppression of emotion and the ability to rationalise a situation leaves the user violent and unstable mentally. This is totally ignored as a health risk and put down to bad behaviour or having one to many.
    Such people should be referred to mental health centres for further screening for depressive illness and stress related mental illness and treated. In some ways its really funny that the government care for my mental health more than they do the Alcohol drug users. They have spent Millions on making people like me aware of our health risks but the big bucks kept in the dark..

    If a cannabis user behaves in such a way they face a section under the mental health act and classed as having a mental illness again stigmatic throughout life.

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  • 49. At 9:35pm on 09 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    LMAO fell of my chair at the home office statement on this...
    OMG its a comedy show with a few serious folks :)
    Unreliable Evidence
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00pkttp

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  • 50. At 00:10am on 10 Jan 2010, BobRocket wrote:

    First of all Mark, #49 CC refers to a R4 episode available on the BBC iPlayer, where are the subtitles ?, this is not the first time I have asked about this issue and it is discriminatory (and in breach of the law) not to provide them, please KSA.

    Recreational drugs such as alcohol and tobacco are legal and taxed in this country, globally the illicit recreational drugs industry is worth $500billion. Liam Donaldson said what he did in the interests of health, the government acts in the interests of money.
    Given the absolutely huge sums of money (the whole UK debt problem could be paid off within 5 years) being made in this arena, enough to fund illegal wars (iran/contra) bail out banks etc. (google banks saved by drugs money) why is my 3p per pint so important.
    Perhaps it is just a smokescreen, this government, like previous governments, has no interest in my health, wealth or education. It has only interest in itself and the preservation of its own class.
    The system needs changing and that needs a NO vote to start with.






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  • 51. At 08:24am on 10 Jan 2010, Noel Woodroffe wrote:

    It is high time (long overdue actually) that we had a properly informed and serious debate on drug use and misuse in our country. Rather than pandering to the likes of the brewing industry and with one eye upon revenues, the government would be wiser to listen to the likes of Professor Nutt regarding the laws on cannabis and other illegal drugs. Most of our crazy laws can be seen (by me) as a hangover (sic) from the prohibitionist ideals and consequent legislation of the late 19th and early 20th century.

    Personally I believe alcohol is one of the most sinister and harmful drugs on this planet, whether I love it or not.

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  • 52. At 08:32am on 10 Jan 2010, rvpisneverinjureds wrote:

    If people want to drink let them drink, sooner or later they realise what a waste of time and money it is..People drink to excess because they are bored, bored with life because they have no other interests.I mean if you have a busy agenda you dont have time to waste drinking. .Heres some advice, pack up drinking , give the liver a break, and at the same time give yourself a payrise.

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  • 53. At 09:48am on 10 Jan 2010, Stokerambo wrote:

    I agree with Bloggsandco. It isn't necessarily the overall amounts of what people are drinking, it is what they're drinking, when they're drinking and why they're drinking. Whereas people up until the late 80s would go to their local pub (and I am talking about provincial England, not hedonist London) and quaff a few pints (of ale), play the odd round of darts, crib or other pub games and then go home at closing time on a Friday night, these days habits have changed entirely. Due to the pressured, artificial nature of modern society, what was considered normal for the average male between 25 and 70 thirty years ago is now limited to the average village pensioner and hence neither cool nor sexy. Drinking has become extremely sexual nowadays - we all now that getting ratted, clubbing and going on the pull are all part of the same lewd experience. Not that I have never engaged in that activity like most of us. But why? Sheep mentality. More than ever before Brits now feel compelled to emulate the degenerate celebrities they worship, common sense moral values no longer apply and women's lib has shot the idea of women not being able to engage in the same hedonistic behaviour as their male partners, thus fuelling the whole affair as men feel pressured to party harder than their female counterparts. In short the hippy movement broke so many taboos in such a short space of time society wasn't able to deal with them. At the same time wages increased, the social net almost foolproof - what was there to lose? The third development coincided with Thatcher's destruction of the industrial heartland - ecstasy. Yet another taboo had been broken. Beer, English beer, was for old farts and train spotters. Now was the time for fast, monotonous music, all night parties and a quick rush to the head. Lager for thirst, gulp it down vodka/red bull for the high combined with the selection coke, speed, e and cannabis.

    Apparently Tony and his Babes made the UK a better place to live, more civic, 'Cool Britannia', less racism, less sexism, more empowerment and embeddedness. In reality, people (and I really include myself in this analysis) have become totally disassociated with life and those around them in this relentless drive for self-fulfillment. People need to just take a step back and ask themselves what they really need. The answer must be: Food; warm, clean and affordable accommodation; family/loved ones, a social network they can rely upon; fulfilling pastimes be it sport, music, gardening, hiking, chess, anything to stimulate the body and mind. Nothing more, nothing less. We don't need new cars, internet technology, mobile phones and flat screen tvs. We don't need cheap and easy sex, cheap and nasty booze, hard and fast drugs. What we do need is an education system that starts drilling some discipline, values, patience and universal learning into people. People didn't use to die of detention and caning, you know.

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  • 54. At 10:01am on 10 Jan 2010, dancingbear wrote:

    OK, this is little bit out of date and I am sure that many would simply label me as a killjoy, but the fact is simple, if the reasons complex. The Prime Minster's Strategy Unit published an Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy for England in 2004 and calculated that the cost of alcohol-related harms in England was up to £20.1bn per annum.

    I will leave health costs out of the frame for now, as these have just been emphasized in the above article. However,
    Crime and anti-social behaviour harms £7.3bn
    Loss of productivity and profitability £6.4bn
    Harms to family and society £4.7bn

    The report also claimed that half of all violent crime and a third of all domestic violence in England was alcohol related.

    It estimated that up to 17m working days are lost each year through alcohol-related absence and that marriages where there are alcohol problems are twice as likely to end in divorce .

    So, who benefits from all of this misery? Britain is a liberal state and cannot simply enforce laws to curb drinking, but it could make it a lot more difficult to buy it. It worked in 1914. Why should it not work now?The booze cruise should not be revived as an option. Mind you, now that supermarkets have complete control of the vast majority of consumer needs.....

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  • 55. At 11:24am on 10 Jan 2010, Radiowonk wrote:

    I was never convinced by the concept of a "cafe culture" establishing itself in Britain, and always thought that the utterances on the subject (Tessa Jowell if memory serves) always sounded a bit patronising. I was also unsettled by the the fact that one of the principal beneficiaries of any relaxing of the licencing laws - apart from the alcohol industry istelf would be... the government; all that lovely lolly rolling in! Once again the "general electorate" and their possible views on the subject didn't get a look - in. The contest between government coffers and the welfare of the UK as a whole was, in fact, no contest.
    The government is now in hock to the alcohol industry as much as it is to the bankers (see RP's blogs, or at least the comments they generate!) and I do not expect any reversal of this any time soon. To me - ever the cynic - the current position can only be explained by someone having enough of a hold over those we elected to be able to "persuade" them that the virtual demolition of the licencing laws and allowing cheap alcohol to be freely available were a "good thing"; the fact the subsequent experience suggests just the opposite will not in and of itself be sufficient for proper corrective action to be taken. Sadly the goverment needs the tax income more than ever.

    Drink yourself to oblivion as often as you want; the country needs your money. What a dreadful state to be in.

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  • 56. At 11:25am on 10 Jan 2010, FedupwithGovt wrote:

    Maybe we should ask Prof Nutt to hurry along with his development of the "Alcohol Pill" he is working on, it is supposed to mimic the nice effects of alcohol - without the resulting health implications. Anyone for an E!

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  • 57. At 12:18pm on 10 Jan 2010, Tez wrote:

    I want to add to this debate. I live in Paris, have done for 11 years. Born in Manchester in a drinking culture (the old type - a pint on the way home, wash and brush up, then 3 or 4 monday to friday, Saturday lunch (pop out of the pub for a bet and a haircut), saturday night (on to a club), sunday lunch then topped up Sunday night). But with work and a career it slowed then stopped. Partly thanks (or because of in my case) to Thatchers social mobility. Moved to france, where no such culture exists. However I have to say I learnt such a lot in those pubs, philosophy, politics, geography, social issues were discussed, the stock market, card games, how to tell jokes and speak in public, how to handle growing up in fact. I dont recall music except on special occasions. Most evenings were based around discussions, bowling, snooker. OK so its not a good argument but I can tell you that there was a social foundation to the boozing; It was a social club. To the mass, bad drinking was a minority spectacle. Nobody was allowed to go too far or get too drunk. Thats how it is in france in fact. However what has never existed in france is gang drinking, young people meet in mixed small groups and eat out then drink coffee as much as wine or beer. Prices are lowish, and the accessibility isnt really any different; Policing is VERY tough though. And I mean teargas and batons if theres a gang fight, or trouble. No questions. So I view this as delinquent youth social behaviour, and its supported by an uneducated provincially minded (under developed?) political and local council arrangement which makes no sense. I am sure it is temporary ( 10 years at most) and will be remembered badly, and with eyes agog by future generations.

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  • 58. At 12:45pm on 10 Jan 2010, Shuggie wrote:

    So that's all right then, there will be a few people left when I next visit the UK, OK they will be drunk, aggressive and violent and that's whether they are necking pints of larger or quaffing copious amounts of claret.

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  • 59. At 1:21pm on 10 Jan 2010, virtualsilverlady wrote:

    It's an interesting point for one time an excess of gin seemed to be the main cause of the problem

    I'm sure we all remember the beer and whiskey drinkers staggering around the streets but although they may have suffered other problems like cuts and bruises no one ever rushed them into hospital and they were back the next day. Right as rain.

    Perhaps it is something to do with what we drink now rather than how much of it. Some drink wine to excess so this could be why we have overtaken Southern Europe.

    There will be many reasons so until proper research has been done trying to price alchohol out of the reach of only the poor will not stop the rest from heavy drinking. In the meantime like so many more I believe a little bit of what you fancy can do you good.

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  • 60. At 1:26pm on 10 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    BoBR signed TY spread as well. :)
    Yup we do need subtitles or transcript for any radio program that is broadcast over the Internet considering it a true mixed media and should give access to all. I believe technology allows for spoken word to text highly accurately now with little editing needed in fact windows 7 and Microsoft office does such a thing, so all one can presume is lazy broadcasters or just simply lack of thought.

    Tez :) Tear gas and batons, I'm sure that would soon fix weekend alcohol problems and detailed policy results should be asked for from France. Still have to deal with domestic drinking though as the only figures we have for this are cheap alcohol outlets so the problem is probably a lot bigger considering alcohol can be brewed at home. I know a 1 week rhubarb beer recipe that produces rocket fuel :\

    The argument against cannabis use is starting to look very week under the social and medical microscopes of life. The need to bring alcohol into the misuse of drugs act is becoming stronger even if its just to fix and regulate properly the price and laws around drink supplies, this would bring down adults buying for children as they could be done for supply as I would be if I bought cannabis to GIVE to anyone even if their need was proved medical.

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  • 61. At 1:43pm on 10 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Vitrualsilverlady gin wine scotch, its all alcohol the countries of import or export of the alcohol are irrelevant as then and now its a political tool.

    Plenty of Proper research has been done but as it does not fit the wanted picture of alcohol use is widely ignored.. wonder why we choose to ignore the inconvenient truths.

    I to believe a little of what you fancy does you the world of good even if it does mean 2 - 14 years in prison for me to enjoy acquire or produce myself. hmmm Myself .. means no money to anyone.. no cost to anyone else... no harm to anyone else...

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  • 62. At 1:58pm on 10 Jan 2010, AJM wrote:

    Hi Mark - my first comment on the BBC so bear with me...
    I thought this was a very interesting article - clearly showing two worrying trends of increased drinking against increased liver disease.
    The correlation between the two is naturally assumed but in no way proved by your analysis. No one would discount that there will be knock on health consequence if the levels of “excessive” drinking is growing. But your article didn’t demonstrate this or otherwise. It could be that the increased consumption is a result of people generally enjoying alcohol in a more responsible way. Although you did say that there is a significant problem where 1.5m (which is c2% population) are drinking well above government guidelines. But you haven’t demonstrated that this is increasing proportionally; and if it is increasing whether the increase issue is generic or isolated for example to youth, or prehaps by gender.
    Your article would have been even more interesting and informative if it had an age (i.e. teens,20’s,30’s… etc) and gender dimension to the increased national alcohol consumption over the years and coupled this to the same detail analysis increases in alcohol related liver problems. Such analysis might better indicate if there is an under lying issue in an age or gender dimension that is driving the increased consumption and potentially show the two problems are indeed linked. It would be even better to see the analysis of “excessive drinking” and alcohol related liver disease. Come-on Mark, give us some information that will point to the real issues rather than just generalities. ;-)
    In summary I thought this was a really interesting article that with a bit more could have been really great.

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  • 63. At 2:20pm on 10 Jan 2010, Stokerambo wrote:

    GB is a plastic society, I'm glad I no longer live there. I crave for pies, chips, gravy, mushy peas, real ale, country cider, real humour and open fires in quaint old pubs yet am oh so disappointed that the only places that serve a decent pint are posh nosh palaces in the middle of nowhere, or Wetherspoon's. The new Government needs to redress the balance, stop all of this superficial cancer metastasizing society and bring people back down to earth. If that means implementing tear gas and batons so be it. What the Government should NOT be doing is punishing sensible law abiding citizens.

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  • 64. At 6:00pm on 10 Jan 2010, joeblogger wrote:

    A combination of two features of life today.The first,the tradition of drinking alcohol to excess that is shared by no means all yet by so many British people coupled with the readiness of greed driven,profit obsessed brewers,distributors and retailers to fuel the need that these feckless, unsophisticated, immature, senseless, thoughtless, selfish,uncaring people share who crave the so called right to anti social behaviour that impacts upon others so negatively and causes so much unnecessary pain and expense for members of society whose behaviour is decent.Worse is this Government's total lack of ability to manage the disgusting behaviour of the relatively few whose unnecessary drunkenness is a blight on society.

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  • 65. At 7:09pm on 10 Jan 2010, Spiny Norman wrote:

    joeblogger is dead right.

    People who behave like boorish thugs when they're sober behave even worse when they're with a group of others under the influence of alcohol. Whether that's the result of disinhibition or opportunism, I don't know.

    It may be significant that the same behaviour can be observed when a group of these people has been artificially separated from alcohol, as in the "bubble" method of tranporting away supporters to fotball matches.

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  • 66. At 7:14pm on 10 Jan 2010, Jock Strap wrote:

    Just to clarify for some who have questioned whether the figures could be worse due to higher alcohol lager, the graphs show litres of pure alcohol consumed, so this will take account of the prevalence of premium beers in recent years.

    In terms of volumes, the consumption of all beer has reduced steadily since 1980, but the alcohol content of the increasingly popular premium (ironically continental!) lagers has kept the actual level of alcohol consumed steady.

    Campaigning has started to encourage a push towards reduced alcohol lagers. Becks and Stella now have 4% varieties and Carling has C2 to name a few. Maybe the government should increase duty on premium beer over, say 4%, thus giving drinkers a financial incentive to drink lower alcohol varieties to offset the bizarre UK machismo associated with drinking strong lager.

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  • 67. At 8:14pm on 10 Jan 2010, Jonathan Morley wrote:

    I dont think the statistics truly reflect the situation. Saying that people who had liver failure also had a drink, is like proving that 100% of people that died in 2009 also inhaled air.

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  • 68. At 10:36pm on 10 Jan 2010, Derek wrote:

    Good Evening Mark
    I have read your comments on The Myths of boozed up Britain and find them interesting and
    I think that we all agree that yes Joe average drinks to much. However you use a lot of graphs to
    prove your points. Now as we all know graphs can be presented to suit the presenters view and also read
    as the reader sees fit. To my point--you state that the drop in alcohol consumption from 1914-1918 was
    the result of "the most sustained attempt to come to grips with drink in history'.
    Perhaps the other piece of history --the 1st world war were we lost several millions dead -- has a little
    to do with that drop.

    Regards Derek

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  • 69. At 10:51pm on 10 Jan 2010, GloucesterChris wrote:

    It really irritates me that normal Government thinking is that whenever a minority of the population causes any kind of problem through thier consumption of whatever the solution is increase the price for everyone.
    So, a minority of mostly young stupid binge drinkers causes our dopy Government to seriously consider increasing the price of a drink for everyone. The majority pays for the stupidity of the minority, how is that fair and balanced? We're not cattle.
    Surely a better approach is to charge them for the results of thier stupidity. Perhaps NHS charges for drink related injury treatment where there is self responsibility. Perhaps bigger penalties for drink related crimes, especially violence. Perhaps on the spot fines where the Police have to defuse a drink related incident.
    It's wrong to penalise everyone for the indescretions of the few. Besides do they really think increasing drink to a minimum of 50p or even £1 per unit will make any difference? Course not, only more tax revenue or more profit for Tesco, but perhaps that's what it's all about?

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  • 70. At 00:08am on 11 Jan 2010, ivor wrote:

    it a problem or a symptom
    I wont condone death from alcohol related liver disease, however neither will I support such poorly presented science. Liver disease is such a general term. there are many other factors. Age, viral infection (and thus ethnicity). Cancer, etc. You have a point, and a strong one at that, BUT waiving graphs with poorly selected study groups? Now draw some graphs which don't generalise and ONLY include those deaths without other factors included.
    Meanwhile focus on community Design and ways to change the soulless dog eat dog Society.
    A society with nothing better than the weakest link or biggest looser, driven by need for a better mobile phone, deserves to be driven to drink. If anything the graphs point to the inexorable rise of the greed classes. increased working hours and commercial pressure.
    Of course the Problem is real. But is it a problem or a symptom -

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  • 71. At 00:23am on 11 Jan 2010, ivor wrote:

    So what you are saying is since the Royal Navy stopped Rum rations, the breathalyser, CCTV, things have rapidly got worse? NO its a symptom of greed society not the cause. Lets work on the cause, not on bandages alone.

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  • 72. At 09:52am on 11 Jan 2010, Angel_in_Transit wrote:

    It would be so very convenient if everything was a matter of statistics, unwelcome events, and dogmatic social meddlers. But nothing is so simple.

    The rise in consumption of wines clearly stretches after our admission to the Common Market accompanied, if my memory serves me, by wine mega stores. I'd be very much more interested in the change of beer drinking to stronger lagers with a sad decline in some of the "better" UK breweries. We have also seen our "locals" devastated by marketing philosophy and political cant. Our retail sector has changed and many would argue not for the better, or social good.

    Given that the Thatcher years saw a crippling decline in the community and social compassion, it is hardly surprising that the "selfishness" of "no such thing as a free lunch" has squandered centuries of alcohol being central to a "common" purpose. So the "binge" squads are a product of short sighed social engineers, who have also devastated us with the concept of "PC", educational "businesses", health "commodities", and pharmaceutical "mayhem" (pills to take 50% more weight off for every pound you lose for example!).

    When a society is geared to "make money" it loses something much, much more valuable. It'll take an age to get our better human sides back too.

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  • 73. At 09:58am on 11 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Wow all these people defending their drug of choice.
    Alcohol has got stronger
    Cannabis has got stronger

    Double standards is it not?

    "the graphs show litres of pure alcohol consumed, so this will take account of the prevalence of premium beers in recent years. "

    JockStrap please show were it takes strength in to account on this graph??? as it merely shows consumption.

    Lets face it Alcohol drug users are squirming around trying to justify their drug habits and because it does little harm to them its alright for everyone else. Very irresponsible of you to ignore the biological evidence before you just for the sake of your own pleasure.


    I have yet to see one argument with evidence to support the benefits of alcohol drug use in both society and the human body. Please provide support for weak ass arguments. Oh that's right there is NONE.

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  • 74. At 10:28am on 11 Jan 2010, Clevor Trever wrote:

    Although the graphs are interesting and informative I feel there is a fundamental problem in comparing the alcohol consumption figures from one northern european country with those from three southern european countries.

    My experiences of drinking with locals from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Estonia and Germany suggest that northern europeans in general drink far too much - UK included. I'm not convinced the UK is top of this part of the league tables.

    Interestingly, in Finland they drink a lot in winter to cheer themselves up because it's dark all the time and they drink a lot in summer because it's time to celebrate the summer solstice. Tubthumping par excellence.

    I'd love to see the alcohol consumption graphs for Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Estonia and Germany

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  • 75. At 10:31am on 11 Jan 2010, Radiowonk wrote:

    ivor @ 70:
    "A society with nothing better than the weakest link or biggest looser, driven by need for a better mobile phone, deserves to be driven to drink."
    Sadly true. To me there remains the underlying problem that government (or at least this one) sees any spending as "good" because it can define any increase as "growth", and then go off an spend it on some pet project.
    Too much of what many people spend their money on has no intrinsic value; it might matter less if it was money that they actually had rather than money they will have (or hope they will have) in the future. As a society we do seem to be gripped by a serious malaise that to my mind the government has as best done nothing to discourage and at worst has positively encouraged it.
    Is it a problem or a symptom? Does it really matter? If I slip on an icy pavement outside (quite likely at the moment!) and break my arm then that broken arm is both a symptom of having slipped on an icy pavement and a problem that needs to be dealt with in its own right.
    Sadly the government has a perverse vested interest in people drinking themselves into oblivion as often as possible; it needs the money. The mere fact that such excessive drinking is objectively "a bad thing" appears - unfortunately - to be of no concern.

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  • 76. At 11:12am on 11 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Just a thought is there such a thing as community mental illness community paranoia.? if so is alcohol the cause?

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  • 77. At 1:32pm on 11 Jan 2010, Breakfast-Maker wrote:

    If people wish to drink themselves into an early grave then why should the govenment interveve? It's not as if we all don't know the risks is it?

    The legions of those dying early should go some way to cutting the pension deficit and saving resources for the healty. As to the NHS costs, isn't that what we pay the extortionate amounts of alcohol duty for? Just like cigarettes, if the tax went away the NHS would collapse overnight.

    Instead of politicans and local do-gooders moaning about the state of city centres on a week-end night, how about giving the police more manpower to throw them in the cells for a night, and keep doing so until they get the message. As it is the police round our way are more concerned that you have a parking ticket while you are visiting the cinema or restaurant than locking up many underage drunks.

    My village had a lock-up for exactly that reason many years ago, pity it couldn't be brought back.

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  • 78. At 2:01pm on 11 Jan 2010, Lee wrote:

    The trouble is the government must take some of the blame on this.

    Everyone said at the time that 24hr drinking would lead to this but the government ignored the advice.

    It's also no coincidence that the rise in alcopops and other spirit based drinks also happens to coincide with a much lower increase in duty on sprits compared to beer, lager and cider. In the last 10 years duty on beer has gone up 52% but the duty on spirits has only risen 19% in the same period!

    You can purchase a bottle of supermarket vodka for @ £10.00 now, to purchase the equivalent amount of alcohol in beer, @ 15 pints, would cost over £40.00. It's a "no-brainer" as far a kids are concerned, spirit based drinks get you hammered very cheaply, and yet the government only target beer and lager when they talk of combatting the problem - two sectors where sales are declining or at best, in the case of real ale, more or less static!

    Until the government address the issue of cheap supermarket alcohol and look to pubs to provide a safe, supervised, place to drink nothing will change.

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  • 79. At 2:03pm on 11 Jan 2010, Karen wrote:

    I have lived in the southern US for the past 20 years and have spent the entire morning reading all the comments here. I have to tell you, that when I think of England I think of the social life I had, which was always cenetered around the English pub. We set the world to rights, had conversations with total strangers over a pint, played darts and went home after the last bell. Yes I did get legally drunk on a number of occasions and I darn well enjoyed it. I got up the next day and was always on time for work. Here in this part of the US, there are no pubs, there are bars. Most of them I would not even dream of setting foot in. The culture of alcohol here is much worse than England. There is one area of town that used to have a Jazz Club and a Blues Club and outside cafes, where GROWN UPS could have a drink and interact. The local City Council decided that this would be a great area to fill with grunge clubs, gay clubs and noisy disco bars. They pulled down the little stores and mom and pop Cafes, or made the rent so prohibitivly high, the only people who could afford to be there were alcohol-selling establishments. The City knew it would attract more drinkers therefore MORE REVENUE. The area is now an absolute no-go for anyone with any sense. Binge drinking is a national passtime for the under 18s. Even with cameras on every lamp post there are regular murders, fights and mayhem. So much so, the City Council now wants to put it back to being more 'family oriented'. Well duh.

    To the many people that have commented here on the whole income/revenue side of it, you are correct. Primarily all that government here is interested in is MONEY. If you take the alcohol problem here - and it is huge - along with the fact that anyone - and I do mean anyone - can own a firearm, the problem is much, much worse. I remember when two guys had an argument in a pub, they would place their pints on the bar, step outside and knock the stuffing out of each other, shake hands and go buy each other another pint. Here they produce a weapon and kill each other. It happens so often it isn't even newsworthy.

    Be glad you are in the UK! I live in a place where there is zero social life, unless you count going to church, and where you can fill up with petrol and buy a case of beer at the same time. If governments 'cared' about its citizens, wouldn't that be the first thing that should be abolished? Oh, sorry, I know why. Because it is illegal to actually drive with any alcohol in your vehicle unless it's locked in your trunk! Try that in an SUV! BIG $$ TICKET!

    Since Maggie Thatcher got stuck up Ronnie Reagan's ass, it seems to me the UK has gone the way of the US. Which I would add, is not the right way. Everything the UK does emulates the American way and IT IS NOT THE RIGHT WAY. Americans in this neck of the woods are boring, uneducated and do not even know what a hobby is! You would not want any kind of social life with them.

    Back when I was growing up, the law was there for your own protection. Now it is a way of screwing you out of any money you might have. It costs around $10,000 to go through the DUI process here (innocent or not), and you may well lose your job due to time off going to court etc. It is a process to get money. That's why they extended the opening hours, that's why they sell booze in every supermarket and that's why they don't give a flip about alcoholism in the general public.

    The best thing the UK can do is put the licencing laws back in the hands of the local authorities, bring back the old opening hours and stop watching mindless brainwashing Americanised TV. Encourage youth to take up healthy hobbies (not playing video games) and tell everyone they do not need a new car, they do not need a 64" TV, they do not need a house the size of Buckingham Palace. Stay home, talk to the kids, and yes, go have a pint on Sundays, maybe watching some cricket on the vilage green...

    Moderation in all things.

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  • 80. At 2:06pm on 11 Jan 2010, MisterGC wrote:

    I think increased prices would be a disincentive - but imposing them accross the board could be damaging.

    When I first started drinking some 20 odd years ago, a pint of lager in a pub was about £1.20 and a can of the same stuff in an off-licence was around 60p.
    Nowadays the pint in the pub is about £3.50, but you can by 6 cans for £5 (and I know one place that does 7 cans!) - thats about 85p each.

    So while we have had above inflation increaeses in the pubs - thereby bringing the one institution that still bound our social fabric together to its knees - the off-licence price has barely moved, and so is miles cheaper in real terms.

    Accross the board increaes will just cause more pubs to close - or mean they can only survive as drunkedness factories like those frequented by Carnage UK.

    This will lead to less local social identity, therefore more isolation, and probably therefore more drinking. Crude government intervention never works, and in this case (ramping up the pub prices while ignoring the supermarkets) has caused the worst of all possible worlds. The pubs are shut and the nation is drinking itself to death on its sofa at home.

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  • 81. At 2:34pm on 11 Jan 2010, Karen wrote:

    That's exactly what they do here MisterGC. There are a few sports bars that sell food, but a beer (if you can call american beer 'beer' as we know and love it) will cost you $6. If I go to my local supermarket I can buy a 12 pack of beer for less than $7! Most people here work at least 50-60 hours a week, they pick up the kids, shove a fat-laden burger in their faces, park them in front of a TV/computer and then get to work on the 12 pack while watching such gems as American Idol, America's Most Wanted etc., then get up at 5am, feed the kids some $1 drive through breakfast, so they can get back to work in the hope of saving up for a bigger TV so they can watch American Idol &tc., &tc.

    Enough already! People drink because they can't take reality and have been brainwashed into thinking they need things they do not need.

    The sickness in society is not caused by alcohol, today's society has caused the sickness.

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  • 82. At 7:55pm on 11 Jan 2010, Stephanie wrote:

    Man, after all this talk of alcohol I need a drink! Which means I'll probably also smoke a couple of fags... If I lived in the UK the government would love me!

    But I don't do it because I'm depressed. Neither am I using it as an escape from a life of long working hours and little freetime. It's a habit borne from ever more available and cheaper alcohol and a society increasingly focussed on drinking as a social activity, whether it's out at bars and clubs and pubs or at home where a bottle of wine over dinner has become the norm (isn't increased home drinking the largest cause of the growing health problem?).

    I won't begin to pretend I know the answer to curbing it but lord knows one subculture that accompanies it needs to be addressed. When I see fellow Brits abroad getting drunk and either fighting or leaving a trail of vomit in their wake I am truely ashamed and embarrassed.

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  • 83. At 8:42pm on 11 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Alcohol, Chemistry and You
    Effects of Ethyl Alcohol on Organ Function.
    http://www.chemcases.com/alcohol/alc-07.htm

    If alcohol users are allowed to fire up CB1 receptors why can't I ?

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  • 84. At 9:12pm on 11 Jan 2010, Euforiater wrote:

    81: A very good point there about the fact that commercial interests try to muscle in on everything to the detriment of everyone else's lives.

    I must say that as an occasional beer drinker I had a lovely Sunday afternoon in a very pleasant local pub where a friend said to me "isn't it great that there are still places like this where people can have a quiet drink without over-loud music drowning out the conversation?" That's what keeps me out of town centres, and I'd suggest it was the lack of older people in these places that takes the brakes off those who want to binge drink - no danger of their parents seeing them, the one thing that would make them stop and think. I sometimes wonder if that's the real key to this and possibly the reason why the UK has this problem and most of Europe doesn't.

    On another subject I had to laugh when I caught the Christmas edition of "Grow your own drugs" (with James Wong). He extolled the benefits of Holly, mistletoe etc. for "improving mood" and "lowering stress". But in every recipe he added Gin, Rum or some other alcoholic concoction! Methinks he was having a little giggle to himself..

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  • 85. At 9:52pm on 11 Jan 2010, Paul B wrote:

    One idea that would go a long way to addressing the issues raised in this article seems to never get raised. I've never seen anyone suggest it as a solution to Britain's serious alcohol problems - RAISE THE LEGAL DRINKING AGE.

    Teenagers have proven beyond all doubt that they can't drink responsibly. Raising the age to 20 would certainly remove many in the 15 - 17 age bracket from developing bad habits at a very impressionable age.

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  • 86. At 10:20pm on 11 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    As most parents introduce there children to alcohol I think we should start there. After all parents educate on the harms of cannabis, cocaine, heroin, acid etc etc yet don't see any harm in alcohol.

    Drinking age wont make a blind bit of difference to those that want it and those that will supply it to them. Alcohol should be added to the misuse of drugs act as its still a Drug and stronger controls on its sully must be made in order to bring this under control. But I suppose 6 to 24 months behind bars for supply of a drug sounds unreasonable not very civil and over all damaging to the economy as there will be a huge drop in sales to minors which in turn will equal tax loss. Not to mention all the intellectual and creative skills lost from the employment markets who because they have a criminal record are unable to get jobs.

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  • 87. At 11:05pm on 11 Jan 2010, David Lilley wrote:

    The thing that I cannot understand is why we changed the goalposts and made booze cheap? OK you will see from by comments below that I do understand.

    We, ourselves and our servants (government), keep referring to the historic low price of alcoholic drinks. They why did we permit this to happen?

    The Scot, Gordon Brown, did not increase the duty on spirits during his 10 year period as Chancellor to stimulate falling sales for the Scotch industry.

    We also doubled the more or less arbitary safe limit on alcohol consumption about 12 years ago and with this we gave the go-ahead to drink more.

    We always have to scrutinise our laws and whilst we employ servants do that in Parliament we cannot do it very well when one party has a massive majority. The best argument may be aired but the majority get their way anyway.

    We have generally cooked up the binge drinking and overconsumption situation. These things are nothing to do with planetary movements. They have a real cause and the root of that cause has been 1. vote generation, 2. increased revenue and 3. redistribution of wealth.

    1. Vote generation. We have considerably increased the alcohol consumption of Labour's core voter and we have made every Scot proud of GB for protecting the Scotch industry

    2. Increased revenue. We have reduced duty as a percentage of purchase price but more than made up the loss of duty with increased volume and we have deflected the blame from Labour to the retailer and landed the latter with a 30 fold increase in licence fee putting 52 pubs per day out of business and driving drinking into the home and street environment.

    3. Redistribution of wealth. You just cannot be on message in the majority government that made all these changes to our drinking habits unless you have Robin Hood flowing through your veins. So it is OK to penalise the wealth creators, in this case the drinks manufacturers and the pubs, as long as the core vote get cheap alcohol.

    We can sratch our heads and wonder about some strange transformation of our drinking habits or we can look hard at 1, 2 and 3 above and just put the duty back to 1997 levels, solve all the overconsumption and binge drinking problems, restore pub and brewery profits and stop majority government core voters destroying the country and the NHS.

    I am human and therefore falible. I could be wrong. But I am not wrong in thinking the causes have nothing to do with planetary movements and we should be looking at the real changes to the pricing regime since 1997. There has been a tax credit on drinking and those binge drinking jobs that we see on newsclips don't have a mortgage, a student loan or a job to go to the next day.

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  • 88. At 11:22pm on 11 Jan 2010, Buck_Turgidson wrote:

    Paul B wrote:
    "RAISE THE LEGAL DRINKING AGE"

    Any party that proposed that would immediately lose the under-20 vote, it could even be enough to wake that age group from their current politicly apathetic state and into a voting frenzy.

    It doesn't seem to work too well in the U.S. either as they appear to have all of the same problems with alcohol that we have.

    I'd also put money on it causing a massive shift to currently prohibited recreational drugs amongst the under 20s as drug dealers don't really care about age limits.

    Not to mention the age old problem that you can sign up to fight for your country at 16 but can't drink till you're 18, raise that to 20 and you'd have a lot of very unhappy soldiers on your hands when they come back on shore leave.

    It also fails to address the reasons why people are drinking so much, all it'd do would be to create a whole new bunch of people going through the legal system and all of the social and financial costs that come with that.

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  • 89. At 00:00am on 12 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Britain has a drink problem
    Tuesday, 22 July 2008 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/07/britain_has_a_drink_problem.html

    why did this one close?
    Map of the week: Booze, cost and consumption
    Monday, 10 November 2008
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2008/11/map_of_the_week.html

    some more info from previous blogs, the 2nd has a nice graph showing price to consumption. maybe thats why it was closed.

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  • 90. At 01:21am on 12 Jan 2010, Dave wrote:

    Karen: you make the right point - just my opinion - sad that you do not sound as though you are having a great time in the deep south.

    I agree also that the problems of "escape" substances be they booze or drugs are a reflection of the hopelessness of much daily life under the Anglo-Saxon economic model for sure and perhaps other economic models too in time. How good it seems that most of us understand only too well when you need the answer to why "the system" does nothing to help, all you need to do is to follow the money.

    That is why I think our first step should be to deny the vested interest any publicity and any further opportunity for manipulation: we can do so by eliminating the advertising and programme content which deals with booze and food. Ban any such material where there is commercial sponsorship whether direct - eg advertising or indirect - eg personality chefs etc e.g. Jamie Oliver.

    Doubtless it will be a cold day in hell before such a move is considered despite the obvious similarity with the attempts to stop the UK from choking itself with tobacco.


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  • 91. At 04:51am on 12 Jan 2010, Angel_in_Transit wrote:

    At one time the working classes "did alcohol" very well; in fact they did living life to the best in the face of adversity very well too. The irresponsible were (and still are) those with disposable incomes that stretched considerably farther than their grey matter; their role models must be all those "successful" people who appear everywhere, print, photos, videos, social networks, etc, etc, legless and brainless.

    I suppose we can say with many large grains of truth that society lacks moral leadership because every Tom, Dick and Harriet is up to no good when "closed doors" are forced open. And that begs many questions, not least the one about our responsibility to ourself. "Do unto others as you would wish done to yourself." And our leaders screw everyone they can, when they can, just to keep their noses in front in a race without a winning post, unless one counts a hole in the ground or an urn as a trophy worth pursuing.

    The more we expose, the more excuses we have for not being in control of the one person we can control. And all because making money, and showing that you have it, are more important than the many in this life who appear to have every reason to want to get to the "winning post" as fast as they can.

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  • 92. At 08:09am on 12 Jan 2010, zeph wrote:

    I gave up alcohol 2 1/2 years ago - best decision I ever made. You don't need it. The friends you think you make in a pub are not friends at all and have no interest in you apart from how you relate to them in the surroundings of the pub. Note how many yarns originate with the fateful words 'we'd had a few' These are not stories at all but confessions seeking absolution. Neither do you meed booze with meals. Drink water and see the flavours let lose - it is the food you're looking to appreciate. No sickness in the mornings, no worry over what went wrong, but instead a clear headed realization that I am in control of my life and it is so much better that way. If you are worried about drink my advice quite simply is kick it. The harder you find this to contemplate the more you know you need to get rid of it. Good luck.

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  • 93. At 09:44am on 12 Jan 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:

    Regarding the graphs showing change in cause of death: its worth remembering that we all die of something. Over the past 30 years we've hammered cancer and most cancers have far better survival rates than they did in the 80's.

    The one graph thats missing from this page is the one showing life expectancy related to units of alcohol drunk per week. None drinkers die younger than moderate drinkers. Heavy drinkers die youngest of all. Unlike most other drugs, especially tobacco SMALL amounts of alcohol have been shown to be beneficial in combating heart disease and cancer. Larger amounts can contribute to them.

    The problem is that a bit of moderation, common sense, self control & understanding of how our bodies work is far too boring. Its much easier & more fun to make racist comments about the Scots and blame the government for everything.

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  • 94. At 09:45am on 12 Jan 2010, iankp wrote:

    Whilst the general story is interesting I think that you should bear in mind that between 1913 and 1918 the vast majority of the male population was out of the country fighting the great war and the fact that arrests for drunkeness dropped was probably more due to this rather than the drniking laws imposed.

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  • 95. At 10:38am on 12 Jan 2010, workrestandplay wrote:

    The article states that "the amount of beer consumed in 1918 was nearly half of the pre-war total....and arrests for drunkenness in England and Wales fell from 190,000 to 29,000 between 1913 and 1918." Could I offer a possible reason for this ? That a huge proportion of the male population were over in Europe fighting World War 1 !

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  • 96. At 10:44am on 12 Jan 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:

    #94 or more accurately a majority of those men aged 18-about 35 were in uniform, but plenty were still in the UK making steel, ships, mining coal etc. The tight licensing rules were brought in to stop munitions workers getting drunk at lunchtime (for obvious reasons!)

    Its also worth pointing out that my great grandfather (who out of 800 men who went to war in 1914 was one of the 3 who came back) drank like a fish when he returned!

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  • 97. At 11:15am on 12 Jan 2010, Tim Gould wrote:

    The problem does seem to be getting worse and having lived and worked in other European countries it does seem worse to me here than elsewhere.
    I neither use alcohol or cannabis but I have a close friend who is killing himself with alcohol and another who has pickled his brain with cannabis and now suffers with paranoia. I see many of my colleagues setting out on the weekend to simply get drunk as fast as they can. They seem unable to enjoy themselves until they are absolutely smashed. It's their choice.
    Where I object is that their choice impacts upon us all. The car accidents and violence that accompany drunkeness is appalling. By contrast someone who is stoned on cannabis might not be capable of driving but in other respects will generally do little harm to anyone but himself.

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  • 98. At 11:17am on 12 Jan 2010, Muscleguy wrote:

    One of the benefits of the proposed minimum pricing is that it will calculated per unit of alcohol. This should have the effect of at least putting the brakes on the trend to higher and higher alcohol levels. There is nothing wrong with a beer at 3.5% and I say that as someone who likes the occasional strong ale. The problem is it is becoming harder and harder to find beer at 3.5%, the last one I had was a guest real ale in a pub. I'm not aware of any bottled beers at that strength. Beers that used to be 'Strong Ales' at 5% like Old Speckled Hen are now just mainstream beers since everything else has caught up to them. Bog standard bitters, not even IPA's are now 5%.

    I am also old enough (mid 40s) to remember when wine was 10.5 to 12%. Now it is again hard to find wines below 12%.

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  • 99. At 11:21am on 12 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Well as were past the great war 40 years into prohibition of cannabis and in the middle of a major Drug epidemic reminiscing about how we used to pop out from work at break time to the beer barrow outside the workplace isn't going to provide a solution.

    I traced my family history back to 1621 so have a few grandparents that went to war and survived some also that had to do some very socially unacceptable things to survive as well.

    Mark how about you turn it around and do a blog on future predictions for Alcohol Drug use given the problem lies in the future and not in the past, whilst looking backwards for solutions is a nice idea it does not provide for the future such as we see with most government policy that is based on past information and mistakes and misinformation from previous political/social campaigns.

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  • 100. At 11:49am on 12 Jan 2010, slimgav wrote:

    The way in which we consume alcohol away from the home has, and is, changing. Typically during the last century, alcohol was served in local pubs, and the most noise was from a jukebox in the corner. This allowed for a certain amount of self policing of the establishment, by the bar staff and the drinkers themselves. This is more evident on the continent, where if you go into a pub/café typically they are table service with plenty of waiting staff making sure order is kept. Consumption is far easier to monitor in this situation, and alcohol abuse is therefore less likely. This is typified by the ‘I think you’ve had enough lad’ attitude often seen by bar staff who are very aware of the amount of drink sold to each party.

    The rise of night clubs and club bars has led to a breakdown in the ability to police the consumption of alcohol on the premises. It has broken the link between sales and policing. Abuse of alcohol is far harder to detect, as the clubs are large enough to allow for anonymity within. Security bouncers, who are remitted to keeping order, are not privy to purchases at the bar, and thus can only take action beyond the point of acceptable intoxication. This means that instead of having a potentially preventative system, it can only be a reactionary one.

    This is also coupled with the fact that night clubs shift emphasis away from conversation due to the volume of the music, and more onto drinking and dancing. This means that a higher level of alcohol intoxication is acceptable, essentially raising the social bar. Nobody wants to talk to a drunk person in a quiet bar, but somehow it seems a requirement in a busy, loud nightclub.

    Mood is harder to control when under the influence of alcohol, and external factors are far more influential. If a person consumes alcohol in the environment of a relaxed friendly bar where seated conversation is the primary interaction, this is less likely to lead that person to cause social disorder afterwards. The nightclub environment creates a far more aggressive situation, with loud music deterring conversation and also increasing the likelihood of conflict. Spilling out of nightclubs, straight into the street, the individual also has no time to wind down. The club atmosphere will probably have raised adrenaline levels, and this excess energy can far more easily lead to social disorder.

    There are no obvious solutions from a legislative point of view. The social trend is clearly now shifting towards constant louder music and more physically active drinking, whereas previously it was on a quieter experience. This trend will not be broken by Government legislation, therefore the only facilitative measure available is to reduce the level of alcohol consumed.

    • Minimum pricing would almost certainly be a good deterrent, as money is not infinite.

    • A wider range of quality soft drinks, as opposed to simply draft cola and lemonade, could also help.



    • The most radical proposal, and one I feel would work, is a legislative directive forcing nightclubs to position their bar outside the dance and music area. This will enable staff a far better opportunity to assess consumption. The monitoring of alcohol procurement can also be made far easier for security staff. As a secondary suggestion, nightclubs could even be forced to remove the ability to take alcohol into the dance and music area, thus forcing consumption to a less adrenaline fuelled environment.




    These last measures could quite easily be implemented by a change to licensing laws of pubs and night clubs.

    While they might seem fairly draconian when compared to current standards, they do not prohibit much of an individuals freedom, and put the emphasis more on responsible sales. I believe this would help reduce alcohol consumption away from the home, and also help in some way to lower anti-social disturbances as a direct result of alcohol.

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  • 101. At 12:12pm on 12 Jan 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:

    #98 I'd be interested to see what the drinks industry can come up with. The problem is that as alcohol develops during fermentation so do all the other flavours. 3% alcohol beer is usually watery, lacking body and flavour. Beers that have had their alcohol removed taste ghastly. Likewise the 8-10% strength wines Brits drank in the 70's would be declared unfit for human consumption on the continent.

    Its worth pointing out that some of the major brewers (Stella Artois & Becks spring to mind) HAVE brought out lower strength beers recently at about 4%..... they taste sweeter and gassier than the originals. The intention is there but I'm not convinced by the product yet. I'm a Whiskey drinker by choice so don't know my real ales well. If you say their 3.5% products are fine I won't argue with you.

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  • 102. At 12:30pm on 12 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Peter very true about the fit for consumption and natural brew strength, strange that its okay to make alcohol a more robust with a refined experience in taste and consistency, after cannabis supposedly did the same and the term Lethal was applied to it. Yet in actual terms of Lethal alcohol wins hands down. Strange the way its okay don't you think ?

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  • 103. At 12:33pm on 12 Jan 2010, Muscleguy wrote:

    #101 it all depends on the brew. I have had appalling 5% beer and very nice 3.5% ones and vice versa. My point is that it all depends on how it is made. weaker strenght beers are quite hard to do well because you don't have the mass of maltiness to balance the hops, which makes them easy to overhop, which leads people to err on the too little side etc. But there some nice ones out there, damned if I can remember what the last one was mind. I tend to choose a beer by style according to what I feel like. I do however not make the mistake when presented by a range of new beers in a brew pub of not assuming the stronger, heavier one will be better.

    I remember now, it was at the brew pub in Moulin, just above Pitlochry. If you have ever visited the Edradour whisky distillery you would have passed it half way up the hill. Both are well worth a visit. Anyway their lighter beer, whatever it's called is rather nice.

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  • 104. At 1:40pm on 12 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Alcohol abuse 'costs every Scot £900 a year'
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/8453060.stm

    could this also be why our council taxes are high across the board. sociaty supporting the outcome of alcohol Drug abuse how much are we paying per head a year to support this in England.

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  • 105. At 1:59pm on 12 Jan 2010, TomorrowsDream wrote:

    This article seems to suggest the answer is to increase the price of alcohol and limit availability. However, the first graph shows that our continental neighbours have succeeded in addressing their alcohol abuse problem while retaining low prices and liberal licensing. Why can't the UK do the same? Perhaps it's time to address the poor behaviour and educate people that alcohol *isn't* needed for every social occasion (as #2 pointed out) rather than just use draconian neo-prohibition methods.

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  • 106. At 2:29pm on 12 Jan 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:

    #102. Yup very strange indeed. I've no problem with people smoking dope as long as the full health implications are known (at least with a bottle of single malt you know its strength, thats its not full of meths and exactly how it'll kill you if you overdo it) and that the user is made fully aware of the risks.

    Booze certainly kills far more than cannabis but contrary to the claims of those claiming cannabis is 'harmless' it CAN kill, through cancer and through people driving while stoned. I won't comment on the mental health aspects. I've seen evidence for both sides and don't have an informed opinion. I'd certainly rather deal with a stoned teenager than a drunken one but the major difference between alcohol and cannabis is that the majority of drinkers don't drink to get drunk (I can nurse a decent sized whiskey half the night) whereas few cannabis users just have a few tokes. The other thing to remember is that low alcohol intake has a proven health benefit (reduced heart disease) whereas no level of cannabis has proveable proven health advantages*

    *although obviously I know full well that certain cannaboids have useful medical properties for MS etc. The point is that it doesn't prevent MS etc

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  • 107. At 2:30pm on 12 Jan 2010, Peter_Sym wrote:

    #105. Thats the killer argument isn't it? No politician will ever dare say something so damned obvious or sensible though.

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  • 108. At 2:54pm on 12 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Ive never said cannabis does not have dangers anything we choose to put in our body has its dangers.
    I tend to nurse a joint half the night binge use tend to be amongst the young as it is with alcohol.

    I scanned through the health section before its amazing how many of the illness come down to manipulation of the CB1 and CB2 receptors take the big bum's and flat tums story if you look at what it says and then look up the chemicals involved they all stem back to cannabinoids/proteins and hormones.
    A little bit of cannabis is good for the heart as well
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2669829/

    seems CB protiens also reduce the want to drink alcohol.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/100/3/1393.abstract?cited-by=yes&legid=pnas;100/3/1393

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  • 109. At 3:05pm on 12 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Peter in reply to strength of product you have hit the nail on the head.
    However In a legal system I would know.
    Also I would know if I visited a seed bank bought a strain and grew it That I would have weights and measure of product.

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  • 110. At 3:39pm on 12 Jan 2010, minniemicro wrote:

    Forget about statistics, nature, nurture, genes whatever the reason we drink more is because we can afford it. It's the same reason people are getting more obese. And young people have more money than ever. In the 60's when I started work we could only afford to go out one night a week. I remember the first beer keller pub in London at Putney. The girls would buy one lager and then have to chat up blokes for another drink!

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  • 111. At 00:11am on 13 Jan 2010, N14 wrote:

    As a student and someone with a wide personal experience of alcohol issues this debate interests me greatly.
    There is now a culture within society, especially those who around my age (20), that to socialise is to drink alcohol. The posts below provide an exhaustive list of the reasons why. People grow up in their own era, they cannot be blamed for being influenced by the problems which occur within that period.
    However as with most debates one sees on the BBC there is a certain hypocrisy within many of the posts below.
    The tone of many seems to suggest that there is a 'nanny state' which is in cohorts with big business to poison us. Often people cite the overbearing state as part of the problem. Whilst in the same breath calling on them to solve problems which would involve them being authoritarian; regulating supermarkets, volumes of alcohol and the like.
    The same people would then baulk at the state intervening. We live in a consensus, still hung-over from Thatcher , in which the market is seen as king this cannot be squared with widespread regulation of alcohol.

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  • 112. At 00:25am on 13 Jan 2010, N14 wrote:

    The issue of alcohol volume is an intractable problem.

    When students go out (to a club), most drink to be at least a little intoxicated (me included), they choose to buy stronger beer/wine etc. They are not being duped.

    Those who drink responsibly, i.e by consuming one or two drinks will still choose to do so. They are still drinking responsibly, therefore unlikely to experience or cause any of the problems mentioned, despite their drink being 1% stronger than it was 20 years ago.

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  • 113. At 01:11am on 13 Jan 2010, copperDolomite wrote:

    59. At 1:21pm on 10 Jan 2010, virtualsilverlady wrote:
    It's an interesting point for one time an excess of gin seemed to be the main cause of the problem

    I'm sure we all remember the beer and whiskey drinkers staggering around the streets but although they may have suffered other problems like cuts and bruises no one ever rushed them into hospital and they were back the next day. Right as rain.


    I remember it well. I remember being amazed at always seeing men on the grass that lined the pathway to the local shops. Sometimes they had their toolbags with them. My mother would explain to me they were 'having a nap on the way home from work because they were ever so tired'

    Right as rain? Somehow, I don't think they were as right as rain, and when they woke up I'm pretty sure their wives made sure they were not right as rain!

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  • 114. At 04:02am on 13 Jan 2010, wpshark wrote:

    I think that the point and cause of this is missed. It is not about drink, drinking or prices and availability, it is a question of standards and norms, values and morals.
    The lack of culture and class, the disrepect for self and society is what causes the behaviour that we see in the UK. Drunken girls lying half-clothed in the streets,unaware of what is happening around them. Violence between friends and rivals fuellled by alcohol binges.
    The difference between the UK and the rest of the world is that outside of the UK, most people still live according to an ethic that prevents them behaving like crazy animals.

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  • 115. At 04:13am on 13 Jan 2010, Shantbanna wrote:

    suggested limits?
    I know when ive had enough!

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  • 116. At 09:10am on 13 Jan 2010, Arthur Rusdell-Wilson wrote:

    Pete #15 makes a very important point. Your second graph is a graph produced by propagandists, and not by detached scientists. The government and its allies never give absolute figures for mortality from liver disease, or from alcohol related causes in general. If they did it would reveal that only about 1% of deaths in the UK were alcohol related, and that would not be good propaganda. I am not suggesting that the increase in liver disease is not serious, or that it is not related to increased alcohol consumption. Clearly it is. But what is also clear is that the government, and many health professional do not want us to keep the matter in proportion, and some of them even believe their own propaganda.

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  • 117. At 09:56am on 13 Jan 2010, jon112dk wrote:

    Mmmmm....

    So alcohol is perfectly legal yet thousands are dying from it.

    So much for the argument we have seen in previous debates that legalising psychoactive drugs removes renders them safe.

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  • 118. At 10:09am on 13 Jan 2010, Bristol_Woman wrote:

    There are all sorts of other graphs that are needed here - the age profile of the country for example, and the amount of disposable income by age group. Also the liver disease by age - is it true that alcohol-related disease is now affecting younger people?
    When I was 20 I had NO disposable income, and I rarely drank.
    If I was 20 now and had the income that many young people have - perhaps I might have been a heavy drinker, there is no way of knowing.
    I believe one reason there is widespread public drunkenness now is merely because it is seen as the norm - if the streets are full of drunken young people, one more makes no difference. If everyone is behaving, you don't want to be the one falling in the gutter.
    Now it IS the 'accepted' norm it will take a long, long time to change people's views as to what is acceptable behaviour.

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  • 119. At 12:33pm on 13 Jan 2010, underbeing wrote:

    Large sections of British society have always got drunk at weekends and it used to be mainly in pubs and on Beer.
    Its harder to drink the massive quantities of alcohol if you are a weekend only beer binge drinker. With wine and spirits its too easy.
    The charts could be interpreted as backing this up if you allow a number of years 'lag time' for the liver disease to catch up.
    Solution: make beer in pubs much cheaper and everything else (including beer in the supermarket) more expensive.

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  • 120. At 1:29pm on 13 Jan 2010, busby2 wrote:

    "Arthur Rusdell-Wilson wrote in post 116 that Pete #15 makes a very important point. Your second graph is a graph produced by propagandists, and not by detached scientists. The government and its allies never give absolute figures for mortality from liver disease, or from alcohol related causes in general. If they did it would reveal that only about 1% of deaths in the UK were alcohol related, and that would not be good propaganda. I am not suggesting that the increase in liver disease is not serious, or that it is not related to increased alcohol consumption. Clearly it is. But what is also clear is that the government, and many health professional do not want us to keep the matter in proportion, and some of them even believe their own propaganda".

    I see that Arthur Rusdell-Wilson has ignored that deaths from alcohol disease is not the only problem from excessive alcohol consumption!!! He also misuses the figures to say only 1% of deaths are alcohol related. For men aged between 16 and 55 between 10% and 27% of deaths are alcohol related, for women the figures are 6% and 15%, and these figures show that alcohol is a very significant cause of premature death.

    Excessive alcohol is the cause of violence both in the home and outside the home. Put simply, excessive alcohol ruins lives, not just those that consume alcohol but those that come into close contact with them, like their partners and children as well as the general public.

    The growing numbers of deaths from alcohol disease is a sure sign that the problem is getting worse and that for everyone suffering a premature death from alcohol disease there are many times more people whose lives have been ruined or severely damaged because of excesive alcohol consumption by others.

    In conclusion I do wonder why people like Arthur Rusdell-Wilson are in denial about the scale of the problem and seek to underplay the deadly effects of excessive alcohol consumption caused by the growth in the amount of alcohol consumed.

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  • 121. At 1:30pm on 13 Jan 2010, PJRooney1961 wrote:

    I cannot believe that a graph showing the rise is chronic liver disease and cirrhosis is assumed to be synonymous with a rise in alcholic liver disease!
    What about Hep C, Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, Hep B, autoimmune disease etc etc...

    The only message I would take from the first graph is that previously the UK either had a very low rate of liver disease or was not reporting it.

    The second graph is again a play on data - rather than quoting the % change in mortality why not quote the true mortality rate. I bet the author would not find it quite so "shocking".

    Dangerous scaremongering journalism.

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  • 122. At 3:13pm on 13 Jan 2010, Patricia Murray wrote:

    The number of shops, supermarkets, off licences, garages selling alcohol have rocketed since the government started handing out liquor licences like confetti. The goverment is in the thrall of the booze lobby. It even allowed them to introduce alcopops in order to make drink more palatable for the young - causing a huge underage binge drinking problem. And some people still aren't convinced that there isn't a drink problem in GB! Get real! We are on a par with Russia I'd say. Just speak to anyone working in the emergency services, or A & E if you want the naked, unvarnished truth about what is going on here.

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  • 123. At 3:17pm on 13 Jan 2010, busby2 wrote:

    PJRooney1961 wrote:
    "I cannot believe that a graph showing the rise is chronic liver disease and cirrhosis is assumed to be synonymous with a rise in alcholic liver disease!"

    Yet another poster in denial! I expect PJ Rooney also don't think heart disease is anything to do with smoking or that smoking causes lung cancer or emphysema.

    PJ Rooney asked "What about Hep C, Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, Hep B, autoimmune disease etc etc...". Since he raised the point, why doesn't he provide the evidence that other causes of liver disease are responsible for the increase rather that simply engage in ill thought out criticism? Alcohol consumption has increased along with liver disease but PJ Rooney refuses to see the connection.

    PJ Rooney wrote "The only message I would take from the first graph is that previously the UK either had a very low rate of liver disease or was not reporting it". Again, shoddy criticism on PJ Rooney's part based on no evidence whatsoever. Why on earth should anyone believe that liver disease was not reported in the past? He is in denial that we had a low rate of liver disease because we did not drink so much in the past.


    As for his ludicrous criticism of motality rates, the fact is that for men aged between 16 and 55 between 10% and 27% of deaths are alcohol related, for women the figures are 6% and 15%, and these figures show that alcohol is a very significant cause of premature death.

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  • 124. At 3:38pm on 13 Jan 2010, Vestatilley wrote:

    I was sorry to read aout Karen being so unhappy in the deep South, and I totally know how she feels, as I am a Brit living in Tennessee. It is very dull. However, the approach to alcohol is SO much more strict here, with the legal age for drinking being 21. The penalties for under age drinking are very harsh, and include juvenile court and expulsion from school. It can seriously damage your college prospects, which I think is a HUGE deterrent. It is true that it is EXTREMELY boring here, nothing to do but eat apple pie and go to church, but I have to say that where I live (and I may be in an affluent "bubble" area) there is not much visible drink related crime. The police are very hot on punishing drinking and driving, and most people I know simply don't do it. It may be that they are drinking at home on the sofa - but you never see drunken louts careering round the local town at night. My experience is somewhat different from Karen's, obviously, but I personally believe that the drinking age of 21 is a significant deterrent, especially as kids can drive here at 16. I lived in Paris also, and never saw any drunken behaviour in the streets there. The French young people seemed to me to drink pretty responsibly - when I come back to the UK I am appalled at the many alcohol related behaviours I see, and my teenage relatives and their friends are all heavy drinkers. It's what they do for recreation. I think there has to be a stronger approach to early drinking, as it can create the roots of a life time habit.

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  • 125. At 4:10pm on 13 Jan 2010, Angel_in_Transit wrote:

    #123

    I suspect that you may be on shaky ground with your comments on smoking. Smoking "what" springs to mind. Is one cigarette the same as one alcoholic drink?

    As I understand it nicotine is not just the purveyor of cancer and heart diseases it is also a brutally addictive substance, so much so that you can get it from your pharmacy just in case you get cold turkey; so much for brutally addictive. So, if we remove the nicotine are we okay and if we are not, what is the hidden "killer". At a guess I'd say it is smoke given that most smoke contains roughly the same killer fumes including those from our lovely (and addictive) motor cars. Of course a deeply profound study, at a similar level to all that money spent on smoking, into the effects of the motor car is awaited.

    At the same time we may like to look at barbecues, cooking fumes and other sources of unwelcome additives to our respiratory functions. And, given our preoccupation with secondary tobacco smoke, we really ought to study the mobile phone (a bigger risk according to some) .

    We die and something usually causes it. If its alcohol or smoke or dope or guns or knives or carrots or whatever, as long as we do it to ourselves who cares?

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  • 126. At 4:14pm on 13 Jan 2010, iNotHere wrote:

    122. At 3:13pm on 13 Jan 2010, Patricia Murray wrote:

    "The number of shops, supermarkets, off licences, garages selling alcohol have rocketed since the government started handing out liquor licences like confetti. The goverment is in the thrall of the booze lobby. It even allowed them to introduce alcopops in order to make drink more palatable for the young - causing a huge underage binge drinking problem. And some people still aren't convinced that there isn't a drink problem in GB! Get real! We are on a par with Russia I'd say. Just speak to anyone working in the emergency services, or A & E if you want the naked, unvarnished truth about what is going on here."


    Couldn't agree more!

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  • 127. At 4:42pm on 13 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    So what we think of the new drug puppet folks?
    We have to deal with methadrone. LOL
    time line points to it becoming popular just after cannabis went to B shrugs

    Drinkers still defending their habits I see... Face it your a burden to society you advocate drug use to minors deny direct causality of illness.. Worst type of drug users there are in my book.

    Hep C, Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, Hep B, autoimmune disease etc etc...". cannabis is proven to play a role in the cure of these illness.

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  • 128. At 5:33pm on 13 Jan 2010, The Future Will Happen wrote:

    How much desire is there in the UK to solve this problem? Are we actually at a tipping point where the number of people who over-indulge is so great that they are not significantly outnumbered by those who wish it to stop? If the government really wanted to stop people consuming too much alcohol, right now; if there really was a strong universal desire to end this problem, it could be solved quickly. Just like they can deal with BSE, terrorism, the blitzkreig, the credit crunch, and all the other emergency issues. The emergency solution would be to heavily restrict the sale of alcohol - shut off the supply. Sure a black market would surface eventually, but that's always been there anyway. Restricting the legal supply of alcohol and / or increasing the price massively would give the A&E departments a break, allow the police to do the rest of their work properly, and bring some order back into the town centres. It might not be liberal, it might grate ideologically, but it would be effective. How many votes would such a policy lose? A LOT, I suspect, and that's why the problem is still with us.

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  • 129. At 7:30pm on 13 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    106#
    http://www.opposingviews.com/articles/opinion-study-shows-how-marijuana-inhibits-brain-cancer-r-1263403200

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  • 130. At 7:55pm on 13 Jan 2010, AWavey wrote:

    Im confused, the article is titled "The myths of boozed up Britain", yet the only myths in the article are the ones taken from the report that you seem to be claiming are wholly accurate. So what myths of boozed up Britain has the article actually covered.

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  • 131. At 8:48pm on 13 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    130 #H mmm so far just cannabis :D

    Yet to see a valid link for alcohol drug use in society and its benefits. So we must presume its all myths must we not. Its the realities and the lies that protect these perverse realities we live with that must be discussed.

    I'm a cannabis user 2008 my drug of choice doubled in price on average people started using more synthetic drugs Methadrone a brand new one from China took hold as cannabis prices sawed and synthetic drugs became the right priced drug for sharing and having fun. £6.50 for half a gram so its affordable to every teenager out there and its legal and 'safe', it will become illegal and quickly replaced by another synthetic drug a variation on a currently illegal molecule swap out a carbon for an oxygen molecule Bing legal high not on the MODA. So we will spend millions in the UK to fight the good fight against legal highs people will suffer from allsorts of unknown complications potency will increase. That's just the new powders after a while of this, one powder will become the next so we will see rapid rises in old addictions heroin and cocaine well after all to a kid in these days a powder is a powder if it makes you feel good who cares.

    Because of the above alcohol and its status in society will not change and any warning of health and social well being issued by the government is point less until such time as they accept that they need to have legal avenues of alternate intoxication available to the general public, with alcohol and its supply and misuse added to all current and future drug acts that govern this country. I say this as the public is no longer uneducated about drugs realises the alternative truths behind social and political agenda. We know that the harms of cannabis use is blown out of all proportion by the government, press and media so why not blow it out of all proportion on alcohol as well.

    Think that sums it up

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  • 132. At 8:49pm on 13 Jan 2010, freespeechoneeach wrote:

    Alcohol is a catastrophe for this country. And it's one which comes courtesy of Her Majesty's Government.
    The Government has had the means, for forty years, to alleviate the harms this drug causes. But rather than seek to reduce the damage, they have at every turn encouraged drinking.
    (There was an ad in 1997 on beer mats; "if you don't give a XXXX for closing time, vote Labour.")

    There has never been a lawful basis for the "exemption" of alcohol (nor of tobacco,) from classification under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
    The MoDA exists precisely to protect the people from drug harms. Tragically, it has never been properly implemented, but instead has been corrupted into a hateful moralist's crusade- principally against alternative lifestyles and minorities.

    To will the cause is to will the consequence.
    The Government wants us all to drink (so much so they'll do anything to forbid us better alternatives,) so it must also want the massive costs, the shocking death rate, the huge burden of disease and dependency, the crime, the disorder, and all the other harms- right up the alcoholism in Parliament itself.
    Some very powerful people really, really like drunken Britain. They don't care who dies, who gets hurt, or whose civil rights are denied. They don't care about the costs to taxpayers. They don't care either about public health or the integrity of the Law.
    The alcohol catastrophe won't mend itself. We need action.
    Classify Alcohol Now!

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  • 133. At 8:55pm on 13 Jan 2010, Woolfbane wrote:

    It seems to me that the most significant factor is our attitude, as a society, to drunkenness: whereas, not so long ago, being drunk (especially behaving offensively) was viewed as something to be ashamed of, not aspired to. It was something to be apologised for, hopefully forgotten about, and certainly not repeated at regular intervals as a source of entertainment. Dignity, self-respect, and respect for others, have simply vanished in the space of 30 years. Our national psyche must be in a dark place indeed if the focus of so many lives is just hedonistic, reckless, attention-seeking self-destruction in public.

    What's worse is that drink has been turned into a spectator sport by the so-called "celebs" who flaunt their alcohol-fuelled antics in the press. There was a time when such low-life indecency would have ended a starlet's career: now it seems it's the first rung on the ladder of fame. The BBC could help by not publicizing - or employing - these idiots. As with everything else, if it becomes unfashionable to be drunk then most people will stop doing it. There will always be the liver damage hard-core, but they have been with us since time immemorial and (once upon a time) served as a warning, not as role-models.

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  • 134. At 9:21pm on 13 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    molocules? encouraging/promotion illegal activity should do for 131 :)

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  • 135. At 1:49pm on 14 Jan 2010, General_Jack_Ripper wrote:

    Richard Holmes wrote:
    "The emergency solution would be to heavily restrict the sale of alcohol -shut off the supply."

    Because Prohibition has always worked so well in the past...

    Sorry Richard, the black market would be up and running before the legislation made its way through Parliament and we'd just see an additional £35billion+ a year going to criminal gangs in Britain.

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  • 136. At 2:48pm on 14 Jan 2010, freespeechoneeach wrote:

    General_Jack_Ripper: I quite agree. Prohibition isn't the answer.
    But prohibition isn't actually what the Misuse of Drugs Act is about. Rather, it simply states that drugs must be classified according to their capacities to do harm.
    At the moment, Government pretends alcohol isn't a drug!
    I think all drugs should be classified, exactly as the Law demands. And also that all drugs should be de- criminalised, as has happened in Portugal. Then, and only then, will protecting the health of all drug users be where it should always have been- at the very top of the list of Government priorities.


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  • 137. At 6:19pm on 14 Jan 2010, Janet Dodd wrote:

    I remember as a 14/15 year old (40 years AND I do remember) Saturday night wasn't complete without necking a large bottle of Strongbow cider before going into the local disco. Did I become loud and obnoxious did I hell as I didn't want to show myself up and make myself look immature. We didn't draw attention to ourselves as we didn't want to attract the attention of the law and the older 'sophisticated' older boys.

    Fast forward 10 years and my first experience of foreign holidays, in the mid 70s. I was disgusted with adults getting off their face while they had little ones with them. Our bingers learned from an early age that it was acceptable to get drunk - after all their parents and grandparents did it booze was cheap. When in Rome do as the Romans do - NOT. Head for the British bars and 'pubs' where you get smashed along with your fellow Brits.

    Even now if you go to the local bars displays of loutish drunken behaviour are frowned upon as the locals don't become overly drunk (I don't mean the ex-pats) - one look at their noses tells you what their drinking habits are like. Drunk foreign teenagers are still a rarity as it is viewed as childish behaviour - they don't see their parents off their heads.

    Don't take away one of my few pleasures in life and hike the price of a pint (real ale). Hammer the drunken yobs with fines that really hurt - the equivalent of a months salary and take it out of their wages or benefits, similarily if they've to be taken to hospital to 'dry out'.

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  • 138. At 10:01am on 15 Jan 2010, PJRooney1961 wrote:

    Regarding busby2 comment 123
    when I wrote
    "I cannot believe that a graph showing the rise is chronic liver disease and cirrhosis is assumed to be synonymous with a rise in alcholic liver disease!"

    This is not a denial of problems of alcohol - this is a critism of the methodolgy to prove the point. There is a danger of misinterpreting the information presented.

    You also critise that "I expect PJ Rooney also don't think heart disease is anything to do with smoking or that smoking causes lung cancer or emphysema."
    I like your assumption! However would busby2 have believed in the 80's that since eggs and shellfish are rich in dietary cholesterol, and heart disease was shown to positively associated with raised serum cholesterol, their intake should be restricted?

    "PJ Rooney asked "What about Hep C, Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, Hep B, autoimmune disease etc etc...". Since he raised the point, why doesn't he provide the evidence that other causes of liver disease are responsible for the increase rather that simply engage in ill thought out criticism?"
    You are so complementary! As I'm sure you are aware Hep C was not recognised until 1989 - and in 2006 over 10,000 cases were diagnosed in the UK - quite an increase.
    NASH was again only recognised in the 1980's and has a prevalence of between 10-30% and mirrors the rise in obesity and diabetes.

    Please let me know if I need to justify any further points in my "ill thought out critism".

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  • 139. At 10:57am on 15 Jan 2010, j noble wrote:

    Alcohol related disease and drunkeness are NOT directly linked.

    On the continent they often drink with meals. I have seen BBC TV demonstration of a man drinking wine with meal and being sober enough to drive, but "uk" demonstrator drinking beer at same level was drunk.

    Experimental "Frenchmans" liver would stil have to process the alcohol but he was not drunk.

    So different drinking style on continent means that though they drink more and thus suffer more liver disease etc they have less drunken loutish behavior.

    The NHS of course wants us to be healthy though the government and private Pension funds want us to die young thus be unhealthy.

    The Citizens and the Police want drunken loutish behavior and violence to cease.

    We the humble citizens of the UK could do worse than adopt the Continental approach to drinking

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  • 140. At 12:47pm on 15 Jan 2010, General_Jack_Ripper wrote:

    freespeechoneeach wrote:
    "I think all drugs should be classified, exactly as the Law demands. And also that all drugs should be de- criminalised, as has happened in Portugal."

    You're preaching to the choir with that one mate.
    I, along with many others, have been making that argument in these blogs (and elsewhere) for several years.

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  • 141. At 3:39pm on 15 Jan 2010, Na Breithim wrote:

    One of the best myths being of course that there has been a sharp rise in liver disease attributable to alcohol in the UK.

    What people don't realise is that back in the 70's there was a reluctance to put liver disease or alcoholic liver disease on a death certificate out of sympathy for the family involved. That has changed so reporting deaths has become more accurate leading to what looks like a severe increase in such deaths in the stats.

    Secondly the medicos changed the way such stats were reported back in the 80's and 'liver disease' now includes deaths from hepatitis related to intravenous and other drug use in the 70's.

    These are all laid at the door of 'alcohol' by anti-alcohol campaigners- and they damn well know the figures are dodgy.

    Bit it all helps with the necessary moral panic required for knee-jerk nanny legislation.

    The medical profession amuse me on this subject- the profession that is known for alcohol and drug abuse above all others seems content to lecture others in a case of 'do as I say not as I do'.

    I can only assume that the medical profession have now resolved such issues within their own profession. Physician, heal thyself?

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  • 142. At 5:15pm on 15 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Jan 15 2010 (Vol. 30, No. 2)

    Medical Marijuana Policy Catches Up with Science
    Shifting Stance on Herbal Medicine by Government and Physicians Benefits Patients
    http://www.genengnews.com/articles/chitem.aspx?aid=3156

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  • 143. At 00:51am on 16 Jan 2010, Help Britain wrote:

    Britain has the worst possible contributing facts to foment heavy drinking:
    -no family culture: estrangement and detachment from family: Loneliness.
    -weather: must get home/get all done before it gets dark early: Stress.
    -non-expressive: alcohol as a means of resolving this English characteristic.
    -mortgage culture: pressure to make ends meet. Demand for housing exceeds supply, this island has reached over-capacity.
    -high price of food: alcohol used as a palliative/food replacement. Not as an accompaniment with the meal.

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  • 144. At 1:53pm on 16 Jan 2010, Critical Mess wrote:

    So is it still okay to push dru....I mean give your kids a glass of wine with dinner?

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  • 145. At 6:52pm on 16 Jan 2010, bigsammyb wrote:

    #42 The Midland

    You can't of spent much time in France then! My family is french and i go there frequently. The french drink just as much as we do, in fact they drink a LOT more than we do.

    In france every day you go buy your bread, milk and wine.

    The difference is the french do not binge drink but they still top up every day.

    You know you will rarely see a alcoholic drunk because they are also just topping up.

    The thing is though the french drink wine not beer and the anti oxidents within it enable them to drink lots eat lots of fatty food and yet still be the longest living healthiest people in the developed world.

    All this talk of alcohol being really bad for you is rubbish, you have to really work hard at drinking to damage your liver and the alcohol actually dramatically reduces the chances of a heart attack. The anti oxidents in wine also help prevent obesity and cancer.

    Binge drinking is perhaps a problem but you know my dads friend was a chronic alcoholic all his life mainly due to extreme inherited wealth. He used to take a gin and tonic to bed with him in case he woke up and needed a drink. He'd drink around 1ltr of gordans gin a day plus beer and wine.

    Yet he STILL lived to the age of 50 and his father who drank just as much lived well in to his seventies. So i think the health risks of drinking are hugly exagerrated.

    The real problem with alcohol is social, the psyhosis anyone who gets drunk experiences can be really bad. People can compeltely change character whilst drunk which is why we see so much violence.

    For this reason cannabis should be legalised it is even less harmful to your body ie: it has no damaging efect on the liver or the brains production of seratonin and the effect does not change peoples character particularly or make them violent.

    So lets legalise cannabis you will see a dramatic shift in social behaviour on a saturday night, you will see people conversing intelligently and having a good time, you will see no violence.

    IT always seems odd to me when daily mail type people say 'cannabis drives you insane' yet they drink! I have got drunk many times and lost my memory only to discover i have been nasty and abusive the night before.

    I am yet to ever lose my memory from smoking weed and i am yet to become unpleasant to people. So all you idiots who talk aobut 'cannabis psychosis' look at what happens to you when you're drunk!

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  • 146. At 11:40pm on 16 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    oh look another whole plant company. very interesting this site as well.

    http://www.cannabisscience.com/

    seems all this talk on the safty of cannabis is far from over..

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  • 147. At 11:59am on 17 Jan 2010, Diane wrote:

    The worrying growth of an irresponsible alcohol culture in the UK was one of the main reasons why I moved to Italy in 2000. At the time my children were 11 and 13 and thanks to the much healthier alcohol culture here they are now moderate and responsible drinkers. They know that it is dangerous to drink without eating for example...most Italians prefer to drink wine mainly and usually at meal times.

    I am not saying that Italy is perfect and even here you can now see the beginnings of an irresponsible attitude much connected to the ever popular clubbing culture here too amongst the young. It's interesting to see how things have changed here for the worse within the last few years but it's still a much safer society in many ways than England. A lot of this I feel can be attributed to a more sensible drinking pattern. I notice every time I go back to the UK just how much worse it is in many ways... teenage crime and binge drinking especially amongst young girls seems sadly to be on the rise.

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  • 148. At 1:45pm on 17 Jan 2010, Cant-make-it-up wrote:

    When USSR had it's pre breakdown problems, it kept it's citizens in work, in housing, with basic food and with plenty of alcohol to keep them happy. My travels behind the iron curtain showed that these 4 things were all that most people had. A failing Country wanted it's citizens kept happy and one way was via lots of alcohol.

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  • 149. At 01:22am on 18 Jan 2010, stephen close wrote:

    YES,quite frankly im sick of listing all the time to people or should i say old women,this is supposed too be a free and democratic country,surely if one wants to get drunk all the time or take drugs of one form or another,then thats up to that person,what do you people think that one can do in a free and democratic system ??????,YOU vote these people in,so dont complain after,this country belongs too the people,the back-bone of free people,you have no spirit now,what happened to the English spine,we used to rule the world,now we are a joke,the dusbin of the world,stand up Engishman,like we used too be,fight for your RIGHTS,you are slowly becoming a slave nation,for the rich,take up they STAFF,you have been watching too much tv,and the stuff they are feeding you.role on world war three,then are time will come,stevenukum235

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  • 150. At 6:06pm on 18 Jan 2010, oobuc5 wrote:

    After reading all of the above i could use a drink !

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  • 151. At 8:25pm on 18 Jan 2010, Buck_Turgidson wrote:

    US waves white flag in disastrous 'war on drugs':

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-waves-white-flag-in-disastrous-war-on-drugs-1870218.html

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  • 152. At 4:11pm on 19 Jan 2010, slightlyallthetime wrote:

    Below is a list of family and friends,all dead as a direct result of alcohol.
    1.My father in law,drowned in bed,aged 65.1991.
    2.My ex wife,cancer in the neck from constant alcohol abuse,aged 58.2008.
    3.My ex brother in law,vein burst in neck from constant alcohol abuse,aged 57.2002.
    4.My best friend,after years of drinking,liver failure,aged 54,2006.
    5.My old work mate,drank himself to death,even after warnings from the doctor,aged 51.2003.
    6.My old school classmate,found dead in a gutter,heart failure from excessive alcohol in his system.2004.
    7.My friend whose stomach melted from constant alcohol abuse,found by police in his room surrounded by piles of blood,coughed up in his final throes.
    There are several more,but I wont go on,below is a list of friends and family who have died from other forms of drug abuse.
    1.There aren't any,they're all still alive and happy to smoke a bit of dope occasionally.
    The government are the drug pushers,with their numerous outlets,pubs,clubs,supermarkets,corner stores,off licences etc.Dont vote for these people,it only encourages them,dont take their drugs,smoke a bit of dope instead,Turn On,Tune In,Drop Out and bring the system down from within,and dont believe a word they say,they are the problem,not the solution.

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  • 153. At 5:38pm on 19 Jan 2010, freespeechoneeach wrote:

    Petition to classify alcohol
    http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/classifyalcohol/
    In the interests of public health, the lethal drug alcohol must be classified under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. It does not enjoy any legal exemption, (nor does tobacco.)

    Alcohol is causing unparalleled harm; to people's health and to society. Instead of encouraging drinking, the Government should discharge its duty to seek to reduce this harm.

    Classification is not the same thing as prohibition. It merely provides the public with clear information about the risks.

    Britain's alcohol catastrophe is not going to solve itself! Action is urgently needed. The means have existed to take action for forty years. All that's required is to implement existing Law.

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  • 154. At 6:06pm on 19 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    of to sign that and pass it about facebook thanks FSOE.

    What a sham the new policy is for those supermarkets allowed to sell alcohol and water!!!

    Still free water in clubs is good for the E crews and the Methadrone lot(nasty side affects with alcohol so I've been told)

    Cant see many 6 months being handed out over a £20k fine. I hope this is well enforced we will see a huge drop in cheap alcohol outlets.

    This if you look at it right will put 100's of cheap booze outlets out of business :D

    If its done right England can soon return to the pub as I know for one Ill be hassling the police for more alcohol underage checks and stings.

    Now with supermarket underage sale will it be the cashier or the supermarket that take the fall?
    who will do the time for the crime?
    Supermarket 20k cant imprison a name/brand
    Manager 20k or 6 months?
    cashier 20k or 6 months?

    If its the cashier/manager then supermarkets will find it hard to employ anyone unless they have alcohol only area with separate checkout, customers wont like that as sprouts n spirits bread n beer will be separate checkouts or will supermarkets simply not be culpable as they are not culpable in the problem in the first place according to the Home Sec......

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  • 155. At 08:46am on 20 Jan 2010, LairdDrambeg wrote:

    I think you need to read the report with a more critical eye: in the 2nd graph you show, there is a 250% increase in mortality (no mention of SDR or age correlation) which the report claims is a five-fold increase. What's that all about? Can they not read graphs in parliament? I really think you ought to consider that in 1971, alcohol as a cause of death was simply not recorded since nobody was on an alcohol witch-hunt at that time. IOW this is the usual junk science, based on junk data, we've all seen so much of from WHO.

    I also note that there is a claim that alcohol is a carcinogen. This is something the WHO has been working very hard to cook up for a few years now and quite honestly it makes no sense and is not at all convincing as to cause & effect. Of course now that the tobacco industry has been bled dry, at least as a source of further increasing income, the WHO needs a new patsy and alcohol looks like a suitable, vulnerable target for bleeding. The fact that the data is bad and so fungible and the understanding of statistics by most epidemiologists is so lacking seems to be of no consequence when parliament wants its way.

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  • 156. At 12:55pm on 20 Jan 2010, General_Jack_Ripper wrote:

    LairdDrambeg

    How does alcohol cause cancer ?
    http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/healthyliving/alcohol/howdoesalcoholcausecancer/index.htm

    Alcohol and cancer: the evidence
    http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/healthyliving/alcohol/howdoweknow/

    Alcohol and cancer
    http://www.drinkaware.co.uk/facts/factsheets/alcohol-and-cancer


    This isn't something new that the WHO have been "cooking up" in the last few years, it has been known for decades that excessive alcohol use causes various types of cancer.

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  • 157. At 2:27pm on 20 Jan 2010, Calum McKay wrote:

    Heavy alcohol intake is often accompanied by heavy smoking. In Scotland binge and heavy drinking is not a new phenomena, it goes back hundreds of years.

    In Scotland, heavy drinking and smoking is compounded by poor living conditions, multiple deprivation going down the generations and amongst some, heavy drug taking.

    The drug taking has led to increased instances of Hepatitis, the interaction of Hepatitis with early stage cirrhosis has seen the death rates from alcohol rocket.

    The SNP Government is trying to challenge heavy drinking through a minimum price policy and education, they are being fought by Scottish labour and other opposition parties, despite a recent Westminster Committee proposing a policy not to dissimilar from the SNP.

    Scotland is drinking in the last chance saloon with its health; the unionist parties should not play politics with our nation’s health!

    C McK

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  • 158. At 5:12pm on 20 Jan 2010, typicallistener wrote:

    9 deaths per 100,000 is trivial. heart disease deaths in men are 65 per 100,000, down from over 250 in 1978. Bet 9 of that reduction is due to protection of red wine.

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  • 159. At 1:41pm on 21 Jan 2010, William Thorburn wrote:

    Why are we always compared to mediterranian cultures, we have very little in common with those, particularly the climate, can we have the same report done on Eire, Belgium, Germany, Poland and Russia, cultures with whom we have very much more in common

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  • 160. At 1:40pm on 22 Jan 2010, verysceptical wrote:

    Just to respond to comments on how various duty rates are applied to different products and may favour certain products such as spirits. Esp the assertion that spirits are taxed lower than others because Gordon Brown is Scottish and has favoured whisky.

    Here is a list of a few expressed in pence per unit of alcohol. This is purely for actual alcohol duty, and does not include any product cost nor Vat. Nor does it take into account selling at less than cost. I've included strengths taken, as duty rates are banded according to strength for some products.

    Spirits 40% 23p
    Cider 6% 5p
    Cider 7.5% 6p
    Wine 14% 15p
    Sparkling Wine 12% 23p
    Beer 5% 16p

    As you can see, spirits are actually at the top end, whilst cider is taxed at a rate way lower than any others.
    In fact if cider had the same method & rate of duty applied as spirits, a two litre bottle of 7.5% cider would incur duty of £3.39, then you'd have all the other product costs, plus Vat. Bringing the cost of a bottle of cider well over £4, instead of the barely £2 some brands are at the moment.
    So, what they should be doing is using the taxation system already in place to level out the duty per unit across all drinks by using the same method of applying duty to all products. Simple.
    Of course for any system to work, somebody also needs to have the 'bottle' to tackle the supermarkets selling at less than cost, and I can't see that happening any time soon.


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  • 161. At 2:18pm on 22 Jan 2010, verysceptical wrote:

    I should also have mentioned that, if a 70cl bottle of 40% whisky was charged the same level of duty as cider is currently. rather than £6.34 alcohol duty, it would incur only £1.40.

    The main thought that comes from this disparity in duty rates is that if drinking alcohol is so bad for us, why are some alcoholic drinks deemed less bad?

    A unit of alcohol, is after all I'd have thought, a unit of alcohol, regardless of what flavour it comes in.

    Or is it all just some massive tax scam? Surely not.

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  • 162. At 3:23pm on 22 Jan 2010, The Third Duke of Bethnal wrote:

    Great stuff. Anyone fancy a pint?

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  • 163. At 10:18am on 23 Jan 2010, LairdDrambeg wrote:

    General_Jack_Ripper

    There is a big difference between labeling a substance a carcinogen and apparent correlations in *some* studies, which are potentially due to secondary effects. It's the former which the WHO has been chasing in their quest for the next "funding" bonanza but then you knew that.

    Your DNA is being damaged by something or other every minute of the day, including by many substances which are foods with essential nutrients, some of which are even commended for their dietary benefits. Anything in excess is going to be bad for you, including water.

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  • 164. At 10:53am on 23 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Grrr dumb ass policies.

    My drug of choice and half my medical need just hit £10 a pigging gram Think its time to ask for sativex of the Doc chances are 0% of him/her prescribing it... The other choice increase harmful pharmaceutical drugs that will ruin my life

    If alcohol was charged at the same rates.... Everyone would be brewing their own wines.... Distilling their own spirits.... Bottling their own beer's...

    So there is the solution to the price rises make your own and stop complaining its good for this increase. Maybe a bit of a bitter pill to swallow but its for the good of your health...

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  • 165. At 5:13pm on 24 Jan 2010, itsdavehere wrote:

    "Measures included shorter opening hours, higher duties on beer, and significant reductions in both the production and strength of beer. The amount of beer consumed in 1918 was nearly half of the pre-war total, despite rising incomes, and arrests for drunkenness in England and Wales fell from 190,000 to 29,000 between 1913 and 1918."

    Don't you think that World War 1 had most to do with the falling figures?
    Everyone was getting shot/blown to bits on the battlefields of France during this period!

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  • 166. At 11:25am on 26 Jan 2010, Pruwake wrote:

    Oh please can we all try to help with this extreme problem of alcohol. It's not just the immediate damage of illness, death and violence but "accidents" caused by the tipsy or downright sozzled, emotional violence inflicted on families, children abused this way suffer long term, everyone who comes in contact with a drinker, who typically is not proccessing emotion but repressing everything by numbing the heart with drink, is being hurt to some extent. I cried for years after stopping drinking. We do it out of fear, social unease, pain, terror, horror at this world of cruelty we grow up in. Oh of course it was meant to just be "fun" at first - they laugh about drunkeness and say it's good for you. They lie.

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  • 167. At 12:18pm on 29 Jan 2010, Peter Warwick wrote:

    Well I am a university student and I have to say that alcohol is at the centre of all social life.

    But there is a difference between getting slightly drunk and then getting completely mashed off your face.

    There is an element of vilifying all alcohol consumers,and I think the media over exaggerates this a lot.

    The motivations are culture, the social lubricant it provides, the ease of escapism and the undeniable feel-good factor that goes along with all this.

    And for all those who try and claim that cannabis is the "harmless" option, you all need to wake up. It causes problems too, just wait down the line for a few years and see why.

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  • 168. At 12:53pm on 29 Jan 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    That's the thing though Peter statistically cannabis is the safer option.
    Socially cannabis is the safer option.
    It has issues but nothing like those of alcohol.
    2-3 % of all people will suffer some form of psychosis in their lifetime.
    How many psychotic episodes are there every weekend through alcohol?
    How many cannabis users will end up in casualty this weekend?
    How many alcohol users through self harm will attend casualty not to mention through the harm of others.


    Ive used cannabis on and off over 25 years its only benefited me so I'm still waiting on harms. Ive used it everyday for the last 5 years in place of pharmaceuticals that messed my life up..

    The unquestionable feel good factor you talk of is actual brain damaged huge releases of natural mood enhancing drugs including lots of G protein's aka CB1 receptors.

    Having seen my farther in laws face and neck being eaten by alcohol induced cancer was very disturbing damn there is a extra for a Zombie move in the room with me, you could see clean through his jaw and cheek and out the other side.

    The only problem I can see with cannabis is motivating the young who use it and fall prey to dealers whom have no care for the clients mental and physical health.

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  • 169. At 2:54pm on 01 Feb 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    RE 168# This comment has been referred to the moderators. Explain.

    please do.

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