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Talk about Newsnight

Boozenight

Time to change the law?

  • Newsnight
  • 11 Dec 07, 10:25 AM

We continue our series of daily debates on alcohol, ahead of Thursday’s special programme, Boozenight.

Today we want to focus on whether the government has got it right with drinking legislation. Consider three areas:

drunkwoman_203.jpg24 hour licensing, which is now just over two years old. Has this brought us any closer to the drinking culture of our continental cousins, or merely aggravated the already high incidents of binge drinking and anti-social behaviour?

Consider also whether the minimum drinking age is still appropriate? In an effort to tackle teenage drinking, should the age be raised from 18 to 21, perhaps? Or should it be lowered?

And what of advertising? Should there be a threshold of, say, 9pm before we see alcohol being advertised on TV, or should it go the way of tobacco and be banned entirely?

Is it time to change the law?

You can now watch the second in our series of extracts from Rain In My Heart, Vanda’s story. Click here for more details.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 11:49 AM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Rachel wrote:

I think that the age should be lowered and people should be taught how to respect alcohol like in spain, italy and france, where children are allowed to have a small glass here and there. At the moment, children are told no, so then they hit an age where its legal and binge. I do think that it should be banned from all advertising as typically it sets an image of glamor and fun. At the end of the day, its a drug no different from other recreational drugs.

  • 2.
  • At 11:49 AM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Wilf wrote:

From an early age the mentality is to hang around on street corners and car parks, rather than do something productive because one is free and the other costs an arm and a leg. Bring back "sport for all" with its cheap sports centres where everyone could join in - catch them young, get them interested and reap the benefit in cleaner streets. Changing the rules won't make any difference until the mentality is changed - and you won't change the mind of a 18-40 year old - so you have to get them younger.

  • 3.
  • At 11:55 AM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • David Freedman wrote:

Alcohol is a very tricky one as it is a legitimate part of social and religious activities, rites of passage etc. However, it is also an addictive drug, a poison, a drug that has an immediate effect on an individual's behaviour, thinking processes and ability to act. So, it earns the Treasury huge amounts of tax and costs the nation billions of pounds due to ill health, lost work days, accidents etc. In a rational debate we need to look at all aspects of alcohol consumption and not hide any of it.

  • 4.
  • At 11:57 AM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Dave Kitching wrote:

There would appear to have always been a drinking culture in Britain, were Victorian times any better? In the literature of both Chaucer and Shakespeare countless Inns and Taverns feature.I would not be comfortable in the main bar & club areas of Brighton or any other major city on a Friday or Saturday night, however I don't believe changing the legal age threshold in any direction would impact upon this, a societal change is required. It is no longer acceptable to smoke almost anywhere, the same intolerance needs to be shown to 'lager lout ' behaviour.

  • 5.
  • At 11:59 AM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Is it worth commenting or are you still operating under 'Stern's Law'?

Seriously though, is 9pm late enough?

Make it 10 or 11pm and most juveniles are safely tucked up in bed.
The armchair drunks have also fallen asleep by then and are snoring with their mouths open and so they're protected as well from even further drink purchase influence.
Finally, those that are left are probably not affected by drink advertisment either beyond appreciating the advert for it's catchy tune...

  • 6.
  • At 12:00 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Rachel wrote:

I think that the age should be lowered and people should be taught how to respect alcohol like in spain, italy and france, where children are allowed to have a small glass here and there. At the moment, children are told no, so then they hit an age where its legal and binge. I do think that it should be banned from all advertising as typically it sets an image of glamor and fun.

  • 7.
  • At 12:07 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Pete Hobo wrote:

Ive been living in Brussels for the past 18 months, and on my trips back to London, am constantly amazed by how little has really changed.

Recently my wife and myself had the unpleasant experience of trying to find a drink after 11pm on the south bank. This should be a simple, straight forward activity. unfortunately the civility and basic freedom of being able to choose your own time to drink is still incredibly rare in most parts of the country, its certainly not the norm.

I guess, we did have the opportunity to go and spend the evening in a 24 hours Tesco supermarket, which seems to of devoured the lions share of the late licenses. However, drinking warm vodka out of a plastic cup in isle 23 is not my idea of a perfect evening anymore.


  • 8.
  • At 12:10 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Dewi Williams wrote:

The main scourge with alcohol is violence. This should be tackled.
And yes, I think the government misunderstood the nature of the drinking culture on these islands when they brought in 24 hour licences. We are Celts and Saxons for god's sakes! We will drink ourselves into a frenzy or stupour no matter what legislation is brought in.

  • 9.
  • At 12:11 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • ELAINE MASON wrote:

TO BUY BOOZE SHOULD BE AT AN OLDER AGE. KIDS OF TODAY ARE LOSING OUT AND THEY ARE OUR NEXT GENERATION, EFFECT OF BOOZE IS WIDENING THE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES WHICH ARE UNABLE TO RECEIVE SUPPORT DUE TO THE DEMANDS. TV ADVERTS AND SOAP PROGRAMMES NEED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY LET US USE THIS MEDIA TO OUR YOUNG GENERATION ON THE ACTUAL IMPACT IT REALLY HAS.WHO IT EFFECTS, IF WE DO NOT DO SOMETHING WE ARE ALSO TO BLAME.THERE IS A DISORDER CONNECTED TO DEMENTIA THAT YOU GET THROUGH ALCOHAL, WHOSE GOING TO PAY FOR THIS CARE SERVICE, SO WHY NOT PUT THE STRAGEDIES IN NOW TO THAT!!!!

  • 10.
  • At 12:11 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

Boozenight
I like a drink or several myself. But, I would like to see a return to strict licensing hours. I passionately believe that the legislation allowing 24 hour opening of pubs and clubs is a great contributor to the culture of boozing, causing a huge increase in alcoholism, alcohol related illnesses, loss of many man-hours of work, social problems including violence and anti social behaviours, and an unnecessary stress on the NHS. Since the advent of the abolition of licensing hours, some sections of society are inclined to over indulge, causing the problems I have outlined. I lived with strict licensing hours throughout most of my lifetime and during that time there was just not the level of problems which now exist. Prices of alcohol should be set by the government under enforceable legislation so that alcohol cannot be sold cheap.

  • 11.
  • At 12:11 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Flower wrote:

I don't think it is the pubs, clubs or off-licenses that are the key to this, but the people who give alcohol to children at parties, believing that as long as they do so at home, it is all ok and that a reeling drunk and vomiting thirteen year old is gaining useful experience in a safe environment, as long as he or she is being collected by Mum! It's difficult territory, the home, but that is where the government needs to tread, if under-age and binge-drinking is really to be addressed.

  • 12.
  • At 12:13 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Caroline wrote:

Raising the drinking age won't help reduce alcohol abuse, it'll just mean more young people are drinking in unsafe environments, and the idea of drinking will become more of a forbidden fruit. Having worked in pubs and clubs for years, I think staff and owners need to take more responsibility. You're made aware in training that it's against the law to serve someone who's inebriated, but you'd only refuse someone if they were really very drunk. Doormen do refuse entry sometimes but not all premises are responsible, and more needs to be done. The bars who're renowned for letting people get blind drunk should be penalised, and contribute towards the local policing and A&E costs. If they repeat offend, they should have their license taken away.

  • 13.
  • At 12:14 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Terrance wrote:

I live in a country where alcohol is banned (i.e. you have to be rich and/or well connected or good at making it yourself). I would hate to see this law reversed, not because I do not like having a drink (when I go abroad) but because of the exacerbation of existing problems this would lead to.

I think that all pubs should be made into clubs where you have to take out membership. This would not be a problem for big brewing chains, but might be a problem for independents and family - support your local! Membership would be something that could be withdrawn for bad behaviour.
I don't think criminalising over-drinking is the answer. There are already penalties for the tragic results. In my day kids matured out of this behaviour. I hope this continues.

Drinking is part of European culture, unlike here where it shouldn't be introduced, there it shouldn't be restricted. What should be restricted or banned is the advertising that promotes drinking as fun, sexy or daring. At this season you should be equally allowed to promote eating turkey as fun, sexy or daring. It isn't either.

If anything binge-drinking and alcohol reliance is a psychological distress flare which should not be ignored.

  • 14.
  • At 12:14 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Colin wrote:

Why don't the government stop supermarkets and off lienses from selling alcohol at prices cheaper than what most licensed premises (pubs and clubs) can buy the same stock

The answer is surely to stop unregulated drinking (supermarkets and off licenses) and make people drink in regulated surroundings (pubs and clubs). It always worked in the past pre 1980-70's before the influx of cheap drink from outlets.

Most young people start drinking before they go out for an evening,drinking cheap plonk,before they move on to pubs and clubs

  • 15.
  • At 12:14 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Jeremy Cassidy wrote:

Alcohol. An almost obligatory part of adolescence and student life. With the next 10 years afterwards being a come down from the roller coaster ride of physical, mental and emotional recovery inherent in a drug being consumed in quantity and the body, mind and spirit desperately trying to regain some kind of equilibrium.
Alcohol isn't the problem, it's our personal and societal relationship to it. It enables us to open up and have a good time. It also lets us create a barrier to true interaction and the possibilities available to us at any moment to make choices.
These choices may mean we don't make the same old mistakes and allow us to choose between habitual patterns and new behaviour.
My pennies worth on policy is not so much on price - it is obviously too cheap. But the vast availablity, especially in poorer parts of the country. So I'd recommend bringing back off-licenses with strict selling times. And really cutting back on alcohol advertising and promotion.

  • 16.
  • At 12:19 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Matt Dann wrote:

Cultural Approaches to alcohol take a generation or so to change, not two years. If we want to be a nation that has a "meditteranean approach" to alcohol (where we can enjoy it in moderation at any time of the day) we have to persist with the current approach - it will work in 20 years or so. If we decide to be heavy handed with alcohol, as they are in Nordic countries, I'm afraid the evidence suggests it will not solve the problems of alcholism nor voilence associated with binge drinking. Anyone who thinks we can change attitudes to alcohol - or any other drug, legal or otherwise - is mistaken.

  • 17.
  • At 12:22 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Gastao wrote:

shoud´nt be considered the question why people drink (so much ) as a starting point for a discution?
is it drinking rhe problem or the bad solution for the society that we all created?
Gastao Barnabé

  • 18.
  • At 12:30 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Ken Case wrote:

I can see no valid reason for either 24 hour liquor by the glass, allowing alchoholic beverages to be advertised, or not raising the drinking age for civilians to 21. Liquor bars and slop chutes (beer bars) have no history of mass bankruptcies, even in the depths of the vilest grinding depression; people who really want to can sniff out liquor however well concealed, and 18 year olds' brains have not yet developed sufficiently to include the concept of unintended consequences. Serving troops on post should be permitted a beer ration at 18 on the reasonable presumption that who is willing to lay down his life if need be, should be afforded the ability to legally chug a cold one at the designated watering hole on post, but no liquor and standard punishment for offences commited while under the influence.

  • 19.
  • At 12:38 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • David Simmons wrote:

Well - one thing's for sure - the government's vision of us all moving to a more Continental style of drinking when 24-hour licensing was introduced, has proved to be completely ridiculous...
But then we all knew that, didn't we, and they had enough warnings from the emergency services...

I like the 24 hour licencing laws and don't see anything wrong in them. If someone is going to cause anti-social behaviour, then they would do it regardless of what drinking hours were. I see nothing wrong with having the legal age for drinking set at 18. I'm not sure about lowering the age, after all the body is developed at 18, and won't cause brain damage. I don't see anything wrong with advertising alcohol either - it certainly should not be banned. All the alcohol commercials now have a "drink responsibly" warning on them anyway. I find some commercials for alcohol incredibly creative - it would be a great shame to lose that.

  • 21.
  • At 01:05 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Anne Jones wrote:

The question that needs answering is why do teenagers drink? Invariably the answer will be that in order to spend time with their friends in the evening there is nowhere else to go other than the pub, particularly in smaller towns and cities that lack the cinemas, ice rinks, sports clubs, restaurants, theatres and other innumerable options of London.
Rather than introducing a blanket ban for those under 21(which, given the easy access to fake id and propensity of teenagers to dress and behave considerably older than their age,is unlikely to have much effect) and merely lecturing on the black and white dangers of the devil drink, children should be encouraged to find other outlets for their free-time. The burden of responsibility for encouraging this change in attitudes should fall upon all of us - parents, members of the community (who often give up their free time to organise youth groups/events, leisure businesses (cinemas, bowling alleys etc) as much as schools and the state. Perhaps the government should consider directing the funds it would spend into introducing and policing further legislation into providing local councils with financing that is ear-marked for youth entertainment/groups.

SELF DENIAL

We are an animal with a fancy brain stuck on top. The animal can’t digest alcohol so it anaesthetises the brain. When that happens the animal falls down and the brain doesn’t work. What more proof is needed of a bad idea?
As for “moderate drinking” – because of alcohol’s ability to affect reason, the first drink, taken sober, is always an act of negligence. But our culture is suffused by drink. There is both social and psychological dependence on it, not least among our “leaders”. This has to be admitted before we attempt to address the subject. When did you last hear of a judge, magistrate, police commissioner or politician preface their pontifications on drink with: “I am a user”?

  • 23.
  • At 01:10 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Jeremy Cassidy wrote:

Alcohol. An almost obligatory part of adolescence and student life. With the next 10 years afterwards being a come down from the roller coaster ride of physical, mental and emotional recovery inherent in a drug being consumed in quantity and the body, mind and spirit desperately trying to regain some kind of equilibrium.
Alcohol isn't the problem, it's our personal and societal relationship to it. It enables us to open up and have a good time. It also lets us create a barrier to true interaction and the possibilities available to us at any moment to make choices.
These choices may mean we don't make the same old mistakes and allow us to choose between habitual patterns and new behaviour.
My pennies worth on policy is not so much on price - it is obviously too cheap. But the vast availablity, especially in poorer parts of the country. So I'd recommend bringing back off-licenses with strict selling times. And really cutting back on alcohol advertising and promotion.

  • 24.
  • At 01:20 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Alban Thurston wrote:

Why do people drink alcohol? To relax, to ease the pressures & inhibitions which assail them, to secure a quick, assisted boost in self-esteem, to feel good about themselves for a short while. Increased drinking is a symptom of deep malaise in an increasingly impermanent UK society, built increasingly on contracted-based relationships in love & in work, many of them subject to inconstancy, and to re-negotiation. Objective studies show that the UK has the weakest family & societal bonds, the developed world's unhappiest children, Europe's longest working hours & an unacknowledged epidemic of mental illness, poorly treated. And to that cocktail (pun intended) we have added - over the past 2 years - extended access to alcohol in pubs & clubs, and alcohol sold by supermarkets at prices cheaper than mineral water. 2 incremental steps: Rescind the extended licencing laws (restriction is not prohibition, after all), and rethink our absurd workaholic, over-commercialised, community-killing society.

  • 25.
  • At 01:22 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Mark Mercer wrote:

It would be neither desirable nor possible to ban alcohol completely as is done with other probably less harmful drugs but the state should not allow the public promotion of something that is so damaging to so many of its citizens.
Stop all advertising. Stop all drink driving by testing drivers randomly and at pub car park exits. Regulate amounts served in clubs. Put ASBOs on the few who habitually turn to violence in drink.
Change the culture that encourages excess as 'grown up' or 'manly' or some kind of achievement.

  • 26.
  • At 01:32 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Kate Nicholls wrote:

24 hour licensing is a myth - I know of no pubs and bars round us which have a 24 hour licence, the most you get is an extra hour at the weekends. Govt stats show that there are only a tiny proportion of premises with 24 hour licences and most of those are supermarkets or hotels. 24 hour drinking may be a reality for some, but it is not the same as 24 hour licensing.

  • 27.
  • At 01:38 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Stan wrote:

We are becoming a very intolerant society.
There appears to be a growing trend to want to ban anything we don't agree with.
Are we in danger of becoming a police state?
I do not agree with increasing the age limit, in fact lower it.
There is no point banning adverts on TV while they continue to drink and smoke in the programmes.

  • 28.
  • At 01:42 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Dr Majid Katme wrote:

Time has come to make a strategic plan in order to:

-Empty our hospitals from a lot of patients damaged by alcohol
-Empty our prisons from the many crimes related to alcohol
-Stop the killings of a lot of people in drink driving
-stop many rapes while under the influence of alcohol..
- Stop the waste of a lot of money
-Reduce the alcoholic doctors..
-Protect and save marriage from the destroyer:Alcohol
Etc..
THE ONLY FORWARDS IS TO WORK ON A SOLID ARGUMENT AND REASONS FOR THE PROHIBITION OF ALCOHOL????

  • 29.
  • At 01:43 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Alban Thurston wrote:

Why do people drink alcohol? To relax at a variety of levels, to ease the pressures, restrictions & inhibitions which assail them, to secure a quick boost in self-esteem, to feel good about themselves for a short while. Increased drinking is a symptom of deep malaise in an increasingly impermanent UK society, built increasingly on contracted-based relationships in love & in work, many of them subject to inconstancy, and to re-negotiation. Objective studies show that currently the UK has the weakest family & societal bonds, the developed world's unhappiest children, Europe's longest working hours & an unacknowledged epidemic of mental illness, poorly treated. And to that cocktail (pun intended) we have added - over the past 2 years - extended access to alcohol in pubs & clubs, and alcohol sold by supermarkets at prices cheaper than mineral water. 2 incremental steps: Rescind the extended licencing laws (restriction is not prohibition, after all), and rethink our absurd workaholic, over-commercialised, community-killing society.

  • 30.
  • At 01:51 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Graham Rollins wrote:

Introduce punitive fines for drunk and disorderly behaviour. Make them “on the spot” fines. Start the fines at £1,000 for the first offence then double it for each further offence within the a 3 year period of the first.
I like to drink as many other people do but to drink to the point where you are a menace to other people is unacceptable.
Pricing alcohol to unacceptably high levels has never worked and will damage the leisure industry massively. If someone wakes up in the morning to find he has to sell his car or something else he owns to pay a fine for a night out he cannot remember I am sure this will focus his thoughts on his behaviour I the future.

  • 31.
  • At 02:18 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Johnny Anderson wrote:


I feell and have felt for sometine that alcohol should be closer to being controlled. The hue and cry about the dangers of smoking are to a point of being obnoxious while the drunks or heavy drinkers have qyuit smoking, alledgedly. I am not aware of any smokers ever contractng sclerosis of the liver from tobacco and the cancer alarm is dubious at best for smokers.

  • 32.
  • At 02:32 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • HAGGAI wrote:

Ban Alcohol. Why gamble with the lives of young ones?

  • 33.
  • At 02:35 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

The age should be lowered to not more than 16. We must learn from our sensible Euopean neighbours. Children are introduced to wine and water at a very early age and they do not booze drink in later years.

  • 34.
  • At 02:40 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • keleba rachelle goman wrote:

i dont think reducing drinking age or asking the states to introduce a new legislation is important.i think that by letting them know the consequence of alcohol at young or old age a is important, why do we always have to blame the state or somebody else not or children or ourself. by blaming or poiting others wont resolve our problem, take responsibility and make it clear to our child or teens that its their own fault not somebody else. we are in a democrate country ,why have we got freedom of choice, i believe its to make our own opinion not to rely on others so why not apply this. i think parents have to stop lying to their teens by blaming businesses or states because if we hide the truth from them they wont take responsibility of their mistakes, every parents love their child but hiding the truth is a mistake

  • 35.
  • At 02:44 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • HAGGAI wrote:

Ban Alcohol.Why gamble with lives of the young ones?

The future depends on the foundation Government Policies and the Laws that will protect this generation.

  • 36.
  • At 02:51 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Robert Peacock wrote:

Let me declare an interest - I'm a drinker, albeit a moderate one; I like a glass of good wine and a good beer, sometimes a whisky but am not really too fussed about that.

As grown ups, we should know that it is sometimes possible to encourage or discourage behaviour in others, but compulsion is much less certain and there are severe limits on how successful we are likely to be in attempting to protect others from harming themselves. However, a complete ban on TV advertising and higher taxes on alcohol might help to reduce excessive drinking.

Licensing laws should follow the south Europe pattern, in the hope that sensible drinking behaviour in Britain might emerge over time, but I fear that our drinking culture is closer to that of the countries in the north of Europe. Alcohol consumption is severely controlled, in Sweden for example, by limiting access and advertising and by taxing heavily, but the social problems around excessive drinking remain.

Raise the drinking age to 21 ? Steady on ! At 18, young people have all the responsibilities of adulthood and they're qualified to join the military and die if they want to. They're also eligible to vote - consider this: levels of turnout at general elections are so low that, if the age of drinking were raised to 21 and 18-21 year olds were opposed to that, then using the internet, they could quickly form a new party, all turn out at a general election to vote for it and then rule the country !

As someone who would like to see voting made compulsory, I would certainly like to see more 18 year olds voting - but that's another issue.

In a couple of months time I'll start drawing my old age pension.

  • 37.
  • At 02:54 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Rich wrote:

It is not new laws governing drinking which are needed but better enforcement of the existing ones (drunk and disorderly, affray, criminal damage etc).

I enjoy a night out with friends and alcohol usually figures fairly prominently in the way we enjoy ourselves. However in over ten years of regular weekend sessions neither myself nor any of my circle have been involved in any form of violence or trouble with the authorities.

As usual ministers seem to think that blanket assaults on our freedom to enjoy ourselves are more effective at tackling a minority of miscreants than carefully targetted measures.

Evidence from the US and Scandinavia suggests that raising prices, increasing purchasing ages or limiting availability has little effect on drinking patterns.

In fact as we are currently beginning to see, these measures make people more likely to drink at home where although they're not on the streets causing a nuisance they can drink with few restraints.

Ultimately even if cheap alcohol is banned it is not difficult to home-brew wines, beers and spirits, and these will likely be much stronger and potentially more harmful than their commercially-marketed equivalents.

Besides, there is a much wider personal responsibility / civil liberties issue to consider. My health is my concern and mine alone; it should have nothing to do with the Government.

Sadly I'm coming to believe that such an outlook places me in a significant minority - most British people seem all to happy to be nannied and shepherded by an increasinly interventionist Government.

Dear Newsnight

A 9pm or even 8.30pm Thresherhold for the TV advertising of alcohol sounds plausible to me.

When going to the cinema and watching 15 rated movies, eg The Bourne Ultimatum, trailers for alcohol are already shown (If you want the product named on that occasion it was Jack Daniels), this is why I have already suggested reducing the drinking age to 15.

Kind regards

Nathan Eakins (Inventor of The Fast Dial Telephone)

NB: For more info contact Mentorn Scotland ref: poor ITV show, Vote For Me.

Might as well try and ban stupidity! Plenty of that on show in comments above.

Slainte
ed

You teach best what you most need to learn.

  • 40.
  • At 04:15 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • KATHLEEN FIDDES, EDINBURGH wrote:

I cannot imagine what possessed the government to introduce 24 hour drinking! Could no-one from TB down foresee the consequences? Binge drinking was bad enough when licensing hours were restricted. Did anyone use joined-up thinking?

Raise the legal age for purchasing alcohol.

Parents should be more responsible instead of passing on the responsibility to teachers, the police, everyone else!

Supermarkets also have a responsibility. Together with their recipes they suggest what wine to drink with the particular dish! Good marketing on their part but encouraging further the consumption of alcohol.

KATHLEEN

  • 41.
  • At 04:16 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • M Reid wrote:

1. - 24 hour licensing will NOT have the same effect as in the rest of Europe as their attitude to alcohol is very far removed from the British one of binge drinking. Allowing a nation of bingers to drink 24/7 is like giving a violent individual a weapon to reek more damage!
2. - As most if not all of us have witnessed, the beginners binging age seems to have been lowering each year so raising the age of legal drinking may help but should this not be supported with a realistic and apprpriate education programme in schools and in the media?
3. - Ban all advertising for alcohol..perhaps this might support a more healthier attitude to drinking as we have noted with tobacco in recent years..I say this speaking as a smoker -and a drinker! - myself!
Another very important factor to note is that with cuts in public spending teens today have far fewer places to go - youth clubs, sports centres etc are drastically underfunded and it is a tragic and disgraceful void which they fill only too easily with alcohol. Many of these services have to rely on fundraising, donations from lotto money etc for even the bare minimum of resources -would this happen if the government wanted to buy arms? Such cutbacks are truly a false economy as the NHS wil undoubtedly be picking up the tab later..

Might as well try and ban stupidity! Plenty of that on show in comments above.

Slainte
ed

You teach best what you most need to learn.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7138076.stm

  • 43.
  • At 04:43 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • David Rose wrote:

Ban all alcohol? Won't work - America tried it and lost...

Change the age limits? Won't work - there will always be someone who will buy for young people.

Stop 24 hour licences? Won't work - (a) I don't know anywhere that has 24-hour drinking anyway (b) It'll just be back to the 11 o'clock punch-up at turning out time...

The answer is just treat us like adults - why punish us all because the police can't handle a few drunken nutcases? Introduce zero tolerance to drinking in the street/train/bus and being drunk in a public place. 28 days manditory! That'll sort it.

  • 44.
  • At 05:15 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Sandrsa Sedgeick wrote:

Perhaps it is time to make it compulsary to serve food with drinks in bars and pubs. Like tapas in Spain. The Brits just go out for a night on the booze, the Continentals always eat when they drink.

Also ban alcopops, as young people drink these like a coca cola because vodka has no taste with a sweet flavouring.

Also if the young have to be taken to hospital because they are so drunk they can not walk, charge them for the ride. Have it taken from their wages or social assistance. A docket should be sent to either or to be claimed by the NHS Ambulance company, providing the service. This would also inform their employers and the social Service what they are doing with their money.

  • 45.
  • At 05:24 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

The age for alcohol should be lowered to not more than 16 years old. We must learn from our sensible European neighbours. Children are introduced to wine and water at a very early age and they do not booze drink in later years. When will we cease being a nanny state ?

  • 46.
  • At 06:05 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • D.J. McPatter wrote:

First of all, any kind of "BAN" is unconstitutional and counter-productive ... Witness all the good things that occured because of the 18th. Amendment ... " ... Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness ..." If one's idea of happiness is different from that of the Toper, then so be it ... As long as no one acts irresponsibly or disrespectfully toward the rest of us, it is really none of anybody's business what any person does, in his pursuit of Happiness ... As to the Drinking Age; If we (Collectively) believe that a person is old enough to be sent to War, and perhaps die ... then we should know that person is old enough to buy a Drink and enjoy it, enter Contracts, and have no Minor Disabilities at all ... What Price Hypocrisy???

As for Advertizing; It should all be banned, in every form of Media ...

What we actually have is, the horrible existence of an attitude first brought to our attention by, Eric Arthur Blair ... "... All Pigs Are Equal, But Some Pigs Are More Equal Than Others ..." SIEG HEIL !!!

  • 47.
  • At 06:35 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Sallybugs wrote:

The genie is out of the bottle rather isn't it? We got ourselves into a terrible pickle when we made alcohol so freely available and cheap. I remember when I was a child you could only buy from shops during licensing hours and off-sales was a hatch or lobby off from the pub. It was considered a bit of a luxury to have a chaser - no working man could really afford it. Those who put drink before their families were castigated but now we've lost the plot. It's very bad news that the culture of drink and where you drink it have changed so much. The local family pub helped educate the young how to drink properly and kept an eye on you. The drinks industry have an awful lot to answer for - their desire for market when ecstasy came on the scene and the young stopped drinking, this led to the creation of alcopops and the degeneration of the pub culture. The drinks industry should in fact be challenged by the government but, of course, the government love them for the revenue don't they?

  • 48.
  • At 08:09 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • richard wrote:

People advocating a ban on alcohol are not only using pie in the sky attitudes but demonstrating a dangerous attitude for anything they don't approve of. Don't they know what happened in the USA when they tried this? Of course they don't. Collective memory only extends for about a year. The Second World War? What war?

The good news is that it seems sales of beer are declining significantly so the nightly binge in pubs is clearly less popular.

But this doesn't address the problem of teenage drinking. As these people are not pub drinkers.

The reality is that this problem is symptomatic of a far bigger problem - the collapse of a well run and civilised society. So many of Britain's problems find their cause here. So trying to patch the alcohol problem is a waste of time. And the Telegraph's pathetic attempt to drum up Britishness isn't helping either.

The bigger problem needs fixing first and there I have little idea how it's done. But it does at least in part explain why so many decent English are voting with their feet and leaving the country.

I lived in Greece for many years and NEVER EVER saw a Greek out of control because of alcohol. I saw plenty of tourists making pigs of themselves however. Yet Greece has a high consumption of alcohol - notably whisky. So why is this? Two reasons I feel. One is that a Greek will never drink without something to eat on the side - a meze - not unlike the Spanish tapas. Secondly that society has a strong family structure - extended family and so on. I've seen 13 year old boys in bar with a whisky. They take all evening to drink it and wouldn't dare misbehave because half their extended family is around them. This is a country where the only place you can't buy alcohol - and at any time of day or night - is the pharmacy I think. Every baker's shop has a decent range for instance. So it can work and those who sneer at the Greeks because they're Greek need look in their own backyard fist.

My father introduced me to alcohol at age 12. Half a glass of water and wine. And instruction about the joys of wine. This process I believe produced two things - an appreciation of alcoholic drinks (I would no more guzzle a decent wine as fly) and it gave my liver some years to learn to cope before I started drinking seriously. For someone to get into serious alcohol drinking say aged 15 - 17 for the first time causes all sorts of physiological problems.

But it doesn't address the so called youth culture issue where strong alcoholic drinks are marketed in seductive packaging and easily obtained. To say nothing of the need to drink to impress.

Some youth are completely out of control as we all know. The Govt. thinks that throwing money at them will solve this or using those ridiculous banning orders. In reality their lives are meaningless. They are forced to stay in prison far too long (school!!) where they are treated as small children. Then they are let loose and find there is nothing constructive to do.

In my youth adolescence didn't exist but thanks to the Americans we now have a mentality that causes young people to be regarded as children far too long. In my day, a boy became a man at about 13 and acted responsibly as a result.

So I come back to the nub of the problem. Society is in a mess and interfering with alcohol sales won't correct it.

  • 49.
  • At 08:34 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Lance Simcox wrote:

I have just read the questions concering the excess drinking problem Britain seems to have......I really get tired of all the same old tired and stale discussion ... I think it's a very sad day for the human race when such questions have to be asked.... I would have thought it obvious with just a few hours observing the situation in our towns and cities on any weekend what the answer might be, especially in the A & E departments in our hospitals....the answers applied in the last few years are certainly not the ones that are needed, they are purely and simply taken with business and profits in mind ...don't take Einstein to work out what the real answer is....

As an addiction counsellor and psychotherapist I am involved in the dynamic of trying to help people unravel the inner mixed messages that are exposed through the misuse of alcohol.
Alcohol is not the problem, in fact it is the exposer of the need for a personal solution if a person can be led through to seeing the undeniable and pififul plight of excessive alcohol intake from a more creative standpoint.
"In vino veritas" is as true today as it was when the Romans coined the phrase - if the drunk does not like what he sees inside then don't blame the drink. If society doesn't like what it sees inside of itself in its individual components, don't blame the drink.
Let's be grateful for the stain that is being applied to the sociological specimen on the media microscope slide and then perhaps we can help individuals with a return to personal meaning journey.
Jung said that when enough individuals travel on this restorative journey, society changes anyway. Individuals change from the inside out, society changes from the inside out if it can read the messages that its problems carry. The problem is in translation, interpretation then implementation and is essentially metaphysical - because the problem is metaphysical ie more than just physical, the solution is metaphysical too.

  • 51.
  • At 09:34 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Clive Ray wrote:

A British citizen, having now spent half my life in Italy, I was gob-smacked by the reaction I received a few years ago when I went up to the bar of a UK hotel restaurant with my seven-year-old daughter in my arms. I merely wished to order some pre-meal, non-alcoholic drinks for my family but I was made, in no uncertain terms, to feel like a social pariah for having had the affront to bring a minor into such close proximity to … well … a bar.

Alcohol is built up in the UK to be, in the eyes of children, as exotic and desirable as sex. Little wonder that, as soon as it comes within their reach, young people grasp the previously forbidden fruit with both hands assuming that, as it doesn’t actually taste that great, there must be some other extreme pleasure to be extracted from its consumption.

Here in Italy, I can allow my daughter to not only experience physical proximity in public places to alcoholic beverages but to sample their gustatory delights as well. Now twelve, she already knows that she doesn’t like most wines or beers and that spirits are basically disgusting. She does, however, appreciate good wine or beer, in small sips, with a meal. And like most Italians, young and old, she will grow up to consider wine and beer as nothing more than an optional accompaniment to food.

  • 52.
  • At 09:34 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Clive Ray wrote:

A British citizen, having now spent half my life in Italy, I was gob-smacked by the reaction I received a few years ago when I went up to the bar of a UK hotel restaurant with my seven-year-old daughter in my arms. I merely wished to order some pre-meal, non-alcoholic drinks for my family but I was made, in no uncertain terms, to feel like a social pariah for having had the affront to bring a minor into such close proximity to … well … a bar.

Alcohol is built up in the UK to be, in the eyes of children, as exotic and desirable as sex. Little wonder that, as soon as it comes within their reach, young people grasp the previously forbidden fruit with both hands assuming that, as it doesn’t actually taste that great, there must be some other extreme pleasure to be extracted from its consumption.

Here in Italy, I can allow my daughter to not only experience physical proximity in public places to alcoholic beverages but to sample their gustatory delights as well. Now twelve, she already knows that she doesn’t like most wines or beers and that spirits are basically disgusting. She does, however, appreciate good wine or beer, in small sips, with a meal. And like most Italians, young and old, she will grow up to consider wine and beer as nothing more than an optional accompaniment to food.

As an addiction counsellor and psychotherapist I am involved in the dynamic of trying to help people unravel the inner mixed messages that are exposed through the misuse of alcohol.
Alcohol is not the problem, in fact it is the exposer of the need for a personal solution if a person can be led through to seeing the undeniable and pififul plight of excessive alcohol intake from a more creative standpoint.
"In vino veritas" is as true today as it was when the Romans coined the phrase - if the drunk does not like what he sees inside then don't blame the drink. If society doesn't like what it sees inside of itself in its individual components, don't blame the drink.
Let's be grateful for the stain that is being applied to the sociological specimen on the media microscope slide and then perhaps we can help individuals with a return to personal meaning journey.
Jung said that when enough individuals travel on this restorative journey, society changes anyway. Individuals change from the inside out, society changes from the inside out if it can read the messages that its problems carry. The problem is in translation, interpretation then implementation and is essentially metaphysical - because the problem is metaphysical ie more than just physical, the solution is metaphysical too.

As an addiction counsellor and psychotherapist I am involved in the dynamic of trying to help people unravel the inner mixed messages that are exposed through the misuse of alcohol.
Alcohol is not the problem, in fact it is the exposer of the need for a personal solution if a person can be led through to seeing the undeniable and pififul plight of excessive alcohol intake from a more creative standpoint.
"In vino veritas" is as true today as it was when the Romans coined the phrase - if the drunk does not like what he sees inside then don't blame the drink. If society doesn't like what it sees inside of itself in its individual components, don't blame the drink.
Let's be grateful for the stain that is being applied to the sociological specimen on the media microscope slide and then perhaps we can help individuals with a return to a personal meaning journey.
Jung said that when enough individuals travel on this restorative journey, society changes anyway. Individuals change from the inside out, society changes from the inside out if it can read the messages that its problems carry. The problem is in translation, interpretation then implementation and is essentially metaphysical - because the problem is metaphysical ie more than just physical, the solution is metaphysical too.

  • 55.
  • At 09:55 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Clive Ray wrote:

A British citizen, having now spent half my life in Italy, I was gob-smacked by the reaction I received a few years ago when I went up to the bar of a UK hotel restaurant with my seven-year-old daughter in my arms. I merely wished to order some pre-meal, non-alcoholic drinks for my family but I was made, in no uncertain terms, to feel like a social pariah for having had the affront to bring a minor into such close proximity to … well … a bar.

Alcohol is built up in the UK to be, in the eyes of children, as exotic and desirable as sex. Little wonder that, as soon as it comes within their reach, young people grasp the previously forbidden fruit with both hands assuming that, as it doesn’t actually taste that great, there must be some other extreme pleasure to be extracted from its consumption.

Here in Italy, I can allow my daughter not only to experience physical proximity in public places to alcoholic beverages but to sample their gustatory delights as well. Now twelve, she already knows that she doesn’t like most wines or beers and that spirits are basically disgusting. She does, however, appreciate good wine or beer, in small sips, with a meal. And like most Italians, young and old, she will grow up to consider wine and beer as nothing more than an optional accompaniment to food.

  • 56.
  • At 10:08 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Anne Jones wrote:

The question that needs answering is why do teenagers drink? Invariably the answer will be that in order to spend time with their friends in the evening there is nowhere else to go other than the pub, particularly in smaller towns and cities that lack the cinemas, ice rinks, sports clubs, restaurants, theatres and other innumerable options of London.
Rather than introducing a blanket ban for those under 21(which, given the easy access to fake id and propensity of teenagers to dress and behave considerably older than their age,is unlikely to have much effect) and merely lecturing on the black and white dangers of the devil drink, children should be encouraged to find other outlets for their free-time. The burden of responsibility for encouraging this change in attitudes should fall upon all of us - parents, members of the community (who often give up their free time to organise youth groups/events, leisure businesses (cinemas, bowling alleys etc) as much as schools and the state. Perhaps the government should consider directing the funds it would spend into introducing and policing further legislation into providing local councils with financing that is ear-marked for youth entertainment/groups.

  • 57.
  • At 10:22 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • richard wrote:

People advocating a ban on alcohol are not only using pie in the sky attitudes but demonstrating a dangerous attitude for anything they don't approve of. Don't they know what happened in the USA when they tried this? Of course they don't. Collective memory only extends for about a year. The Second World War? What war?

The good news is that it seems sales of beer are declining significantly so the nightly binge in pubs is clearly less popular.

But this doesn't address the problem of teenage drinking. As these people are not pub drinkers.

The reality is that this problem is symptomatic of a far bigger problem - the collapse of a well run and civilised society. So many of Britain's problems find their cause here. So trying to patch the alcohol problem is a waste of time. And the Telegraph's pathetic attempt to drum up Britishness isn't helping either.

The bigger problem needs fixing first and there I have little idea how it's done. But it does at least in part explain why so many decent English are voting with their feet and leaving the country.

I lived in Greece for many years and NEVER EVER saw a Greek out of control because of alcohol. I saw plenty of tourists making pigs of themselves however. Yet Greece has a high consumption of alcohol - notably whisky. So why is this? Two reasons I feel. One is that a Greek will never drink without something to eat on the side - a meze - not unlike the Spanish tapas. Secondly that society has a strong family structure - extended family and so on. I've seen 13 year old boys in bar with a whisky. They take all evening to drink it and wouldn't dare misbehave because half their extended family is around them. This is a country where the only place you can't buy alcohol - and at any time of day or night - is the pharmacy I think. Every baker's shop has a decent range for instance. So it can work and those who sneer at the Greeks because they're Greek need look in their own backyard fist.

My father introduced me to alcohol at age 12. Half a glass of water and wine. And instruction about the joys of wine. This process I believe produced two things - an appreciation of alcoholic drinks (I would no more guzzle a decent wine as fly) and it gave my liver some years to learn to cope before I started drinking seriously. For someone to get into serious alcohol drinking say aged 15 - 17 for the first time causes all sorts of physiological problems.

But it doesn't address the so called youth culture issue where strong alcoholic drinks are marketed in seductive packaging and easily obtained. To say nothing of the need to drink to impress.

Some youth are completely out of control as we all know. The Govt. thinks that throwing money at them will solve this or using those ridiculous banning orders. In reality their lives are meaningless. They are forced to stay in prison far too long (school!!) where they are treated as small children. Then they are let loose and find there is nothing constructive to do.

In my youth adolescence didn't exist but thanks to the Americans we now have a mentality that causes young people to be regarded as children far too long. In my day, a boy became a man at about 13 and acted responsibly as a result.

So I come back to the nub of the problem. Society is in a mess and interfering with alcohol sales won't correct it.

They are slowly starting to reign in Alcohol as it is AntiIslamic.
Little by Little you Understand, running repeated stories about liver problems etc.Drip, Drip, Drip so we barely notice what is going on.

http://bfbwwiii.blogspot.com/2007/10/frankfurt-subversion.html

  • 59.
  • At 11:52 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Lesley Boatwright wrote:

I totally agree with the various comments above that point to the way sensible European nations introduce alcohol to young children in the context of a family meal, or social occasion, in moderation. If you ban anything and make a song and dance about how wicked it is, people will naturally want to have it. Alcohol can be a thoroughly enjoyable part of life but (as with food and sex) it should not be either deified or demonised.

  • 60.
  • At 01:03 AM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • Nigel Perry wrote:

Banning alcohol will only benefit gangsters.
Making it expensive will only make life harder for pensioners.
Restricting its availability will only inconvenience the well behaved.

The solution is both simple and inexpensive.

For those who can not drink and behave responsibly: take away their drinking licence.

Let the police breath-test anyone, any time. Anyone who has been banned from drinking alcohol and tests positive will be given the same treatment as a drunk driver.

It will be their personal responsibility to remain free of alcohol until their licence is returned.

Their own responsibility.
Not the shops.
Not the pubs.
Just the idiots.

  • 61.
  • At 04:05 AM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • Adrian Nabunk wrote:

I think the more important think nowadays are how to eliminate alcohol industries or factories and how to focus our contration on appreciating those concerned on establishing new era like:
1) Pursuing a global savely living without any pollutions
2) Helping our young generations to find alternative values on living a good life.
3) Creating educational movement to encourage the quality of developing or underdeveloping countries education program.
4) etc.
How important we waste our time concerning on talking about the effect of alcoholic drunker?
Thank you for your kind attention. I am just underdog teacher for my junior Catholic students in Indonesia.

  • 62.
  • At 07:08 AM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • David Patterson wrote:

We used to have the legal age of 18 here in the states. It is 21 now, but little has changed.
I work as sound tech for a band which plays many college parties. Today's youth binges worse than we ever did when I was at school in the 70's.
I certainly don't see restrictions as any solution. Remember what happened here during our prohibition, when organized crime turned to big business.

Nigel (61),

"Their own responsibility.
Not the shops.
Not the pubs.
Just the idiots."

Hear hear! Hear hear!

Salaam/Shalom/Shanthi/Dorood/Peace
Namaste -ed

And the Israeli "incursion" into Gaza has disappeared off the News website.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/default.stm

Is it all over and unimportant? No destroyed homes, no dead or injured? All's rosy in Gaza.....Pull the other one.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/check/player/nol/newsid_7130000/newsid_7139000?redirect=7139004.stm&news=1&nbwm=1&nbram=1&bbwm=1&bbram=1&asb=1

Nigel (61),

"Their own responsibility.
Not the shops.
Not the pubs.
Just the idiots."

Hear, HEAR! Hear, HEAR!

Salaam/Shalom/Shanthi/Dorood/Peace
Namaste -ed

Nigel (61),

"Their own responsibility.
Not the shops.
Not the pubs.
Just the idiots."

Hear, HEAR! Hear, HEAR!

Salaam/Shalom/Shanthi/Dorood/Peace
Namaste -ed

  • 66.
  • At 05:18 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • girma wrote:

Why bother about it .itis upto everybody not by order of law or Advertizing.A man in need it he can take it OR........

The problem is a symptom - symptomatic of the laissez-faire management (et ... latebra/perfugium ..]]) by successive governments in most or all spheres. In general terms, this has resulted in two generations with little concept of responsibility: morally, socially, personally, familialy.
The enablement of ruthless and morally reprehensible business practises in the leisure industry and lax management of licensing laws are also causative - allowable by laissez-faire governance [ET:/ambitus et corruptio-ambito)]] (localisch und zentral).
The solution may be to encourage a Healthy Rejuvenation of our town centres. After all, amongst the hordes of drunken children on the streets - there will be some who would enjoy a drink in the local jazz club with their pals (as only one example) ... Why are they deprived of this opportunity?

  • 68.
  • At 01:07 PM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

The law shouldn't be changed because a minority of people don't act sensibility. I say a minority of people because it is a minority, but the media focuses on this group. Why should the law abiding majority be punished through higher taxes or draconian licensing laws? Surely most people appreciate that they can now have a drink in this country after 11pm (like the rest of the civilised world). As a country we should be getting a grip of the people who misbehave, not punishing us all because of them.

  • 69.
  • At 06:04 PM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • Alastair Ross wrote:

I think we need to separate the ages at which people can learn to drive and at which they can legally drink. Young males learn to drive soon after seventeen and soon after that can also drink. The combination is lethal.

For once I think the US model is better than ours: learn to drive from fifteen and a half onwards but no drinking until 21. They also ban driving of non-relatives for some years.

If we build these stages into our own system then it gives time to allow some maturity to develop in driving before drinking gets added into the mix.

Growing up is tough. It's just a pity that at present we dump so many opportunities on youngsters at the same age. Responsibility only comes from learning and it is our responsibility to ensure that their learning is paced for the right outcomes.

  • 70.
  • At 10:14 PM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

I'm 17, turning 18 in January, and it seems to me that raising the drinking age would be utterly pointless. My parents have always allowed me to have some alcohol - a small glass of wine, or some good quality beer, and possibly some cognac on Christmas, and as a result, I would never drink anything that was poor quality, and would therefore drink in moderation (because lets face it, no-one wants to binge on something that costs a tenner per bottle). Of course, being a sensible, law abiding person, I would obey any law raising the drinking age, however much I disapprove, but I don't think I'm the target for reducing drinking. I think those who do drink cheaply and plentifully will procure alcohol whatever the legal age, and I think it's these people that the law is intending to stop. I would propose either following a continental system, or raising the price. A continental system would teach people to respect alcohol, while a higher price would teach people to drink well, but in moderation.

  • 71.
  • At 11:08 PM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • laura wrote:

After getting no where in helping my alcoholic mother it has left me helpless and having to deal with being told to 'accept it.' I feel that the law should change to dual diagnosis. For example, in Scotland, people with alcoholic issues are linked with mental health problems. The reason for my mum not getting any help is due to her alcoholic intake which is brought on by her severe depression - however, the mental depression issue cannot be treated until she has a controlled intake. This is a vicious circle, leading only to death.

  • 72.
  • At 11:12 PM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • Greg Brown wrote:

So politicians nowadays run around in circles trying to "engage" young people in politics, and then they move towards putting the drinking age up from 18 to 21. Is this some kind of reverse psychology come kamikaze politics on behalf of the government, or mere stupidity?

  • 73.
  • At 11:20 PM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Raising the drinking age to 21 would be absolutly foolish , already there 15,16,and 17 year olds drinking on the street ,you would just be adding another 3 year groups the problem, the best thing would be to drop the age to 16 in pubs that way it was take more kids off the street. If people had to wait to be 21 before they could drink what would they do for antertainment and where would a 25 year old man take is 20 year old wife for a night old ?

  • 74.
  • At 11:22 PM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • Alexis wrote:

You cannot legislate for everything in this life.

We are becoming ever more governed by the State which is not necessary.

I perceive excessive drinking as a symptom of Capitalism and the stresses incumbent in such a political system - the fact people turn to drink is nothing new - read Jack London's People of the Abyss - read about the quotas of beer dished out to workers within workhouses of the Victorian era - perhaps some people are genetically predisposed to excessive drinking or (as I like to term it) anaesthetising oneself in, at times, hard/stressful times.

We are, as a nation, working long hours (despite the Working Time Regs) and living more and more stressful lives. It is funny to note that friends of mine who have visited Jamiaca (black) have said locals shout "English bwoy" and they are identified as foreigners from the speed at which they walk!

The rise in gang culture is attributable to the same cause - escapism....

Unless the real root causes are identified - people will always seek out ways of escaping that which they deem intolerable (in varying degrees).

Cheap booze = fair play. Alcoholism = inevitability of life. Give some an inch - they will take a mile. You cannot penalise the masses for the actions of the few.

  • 75.
  • At 11:27 PM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • DE kempe geert wrote:

in belgium the legal drinking age is 16,that doesnt mean their are more people with an alcoholproblem overhere,its a matter of culture and tradition i think.i see it every day,british people that are drunk on the streets here,because of binge drinking.the younger ,the more agresive they behave,its kinda sad,to be labeled like this abroad,for a proud country with a great history

  • 76.
  • At 11:31 PM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

I agree with tom above, and have experienced first hand the difference between attitudes to drinking alcohol on the continent and in Britain. I have friends and family in Germany which I frequently visit and growing up I was allowed a glass of wine at home now and then. When I'm with friends in Germany we are allowed to drink legally and we hardly ever had problems with anyone of us getting drunk, it would even sometimes be looked down upon. Back in Britain there was a different atmosphere, it seemed to be a challenge to drink a lot because it was illegal. The whole approach is different, it would be difficult to change the approach but I think that making the legal age higher would just make it worse. Maybe we could do something similar to the German law and change liquors to a higher legal age than softer alcohol.

  • 77.
  • At 11:38 PM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • maria wrote:

I am a woman who has two teenage children. One likes a drink the other one does not. There is only a year diffrents in age. They both have been able to have a glass of wine since the age of six. Which had been watered down. I think education is the answer. If you teach them from a early age and in a good faimly setting. Things would be alot diffrent.

  • 78.
  • At 11:38 PM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

if we raised the drinking age to 21 where would the under 21's go for a night out ? or where would a 25 year old man take is 20 year old wife out to ? drinking at home is allowed at any age all u would get is more people getting drunk at home before meeting their mates on the streets

  • 79.
  • At 11:47 PM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • Jon wrote:

Isn't it sad that people want everything "banned" first smoking in pubs, then alcohol- what next , outlawing sex for hetrosexuals?.

This country has turned into the most intolerent land since the Puritans of the 17th century.

  • 80.
  • At 11:52 PM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • zed wrote:

I thought the only person that spoke sense on the programme tonight was the Doctor. The rest are in a fantasy, there has already been a huge cultural change, have they been asleep. There is no sense of place, no ownership of behaviours, no family, no values around compassion or understanding, an education system that teaches the values of key performance targets, a society that consumes instead of produces, a pornographic digital age, confusion around what is actually real, and a growing population living in what seems an endless war. People are very sick, mentally ill, living in an environmental disaster, war everywhere, and no revolution in sight. A society that owns nothing, capitalism gone crazy. Binge and overdose is a huge signal that is ignored by the powers that be simply because they are motivated by profit at the expense of human lives. That fact as not changed since the days of slavery and still they get away with it. Yes we do need a cultural change, get rid of the stiffs on your programme will do for starters, get rid of the fluffy right wing cosy armchair sherry drinking liars that we call government, get rid of the minority of terrified pathetic co-dependents that vote them in every four years while the rest of us are ignored. Then we might see some hope and less oblivion.

  • 81.
  • At 11:58 PM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • jen wrote:

yes the system is a vicious circle!
The alcohol service will not speak to an alcoholic until they moderate their drinking, which an alcoholic can not do on their own!!!!!!!
They usually have underlying problems which need to be treated but the services that treat the mental problems will not help or even see you until you stop the drinking!!
The system is a mess!!!
A lot of people tend to think of alcoholics as scum, people who self pity and drown their sorrows but alcoholism is a diseases and needs to be recognised!
The NHS is rubbish I hate it!!!!!
My partner has had to got to a private clinic to be de-toxed which puts us in debt resulting in stress when he is sober!!! Nice one! thanks!!!!!!

Some alcoholics do not want to be helped so I understand that money should not be wasted! But when a person comes to the NHS begging for help they do not get it!

They are first told to reduce without alot of support!
Then once this has taken place then they can get so- called help!

My partner recently relapsed as he wanted to be able to drink like any other person but it was like the time he was of the drink was nothing and he was worse than before and could hardly move, he was a state and it was disgusting with two young kids around as well!

We visited the alcohol service and were unable to get an appointment they instead held drop-ins and were lucky to be seen, the girl we met and was very inexperienced and unhelpful and told us that he needed to reduce before being seen we he already had tried to do but he was not drunk as such just very ill and shakey. I asked how long it would take for direct help and she said at least 8 weeks if not more as assesments need to be made then case presented etc etc whatever!

I came away feeling very angry as had only been drinking for a week but could not stop as he had relapsed! By the time they had got their act together he would have been dead, very ill with long term effects!!!!!!

So I decided to go for private health care and found an excellent clinic which came with a pice tag. When they saw him he was so ill they were asking me if he was on heroin, shocking he would never do heroin(needle fear)
He was on no drugs apart from alcohol and in this state the NHS would not help him and left him to return like death to his kids with no hope of help!
But the PRIVATE clinic detox has worked and it is so nice to see him back to his amazing self again!
But we are now in debt, due to the fact that the NHS could/would not help in time! where do our taxes go!

If he were to suffer long term health effects surely that would cost the NHS more!!!!!

It needs to change! FAST!!!!!!!!!

  • 82.
  • At 12:14 AM on 14 Dec 2007,
  • Gareth_Of_Greenhill wrote:

When are this government going to cease passing laws that try to control every detail of our lives? Every time any organisation makes a statement criticising a pleasurable pursuit, the government considers banning (or severely hampering) it.

The usual 'reason' is that stupid people sometimes hurt themselves. When are they going to ban crossing the road? Should there be an IQ test before we're allowed to walk on the pavement?

Why should the activities of a few fools work as an excuse for these control freaks to interfere still further in our lives, or make us pay extortionate prices for an activity. What right do interfering 'sensible' people have to inflict their live-no-longer-but-feel-like-it's-a-century attitude on the rest of us?

Life is for enjoyment, not for doing without and trying to leave a well preserved body for the coffin. What's the point in the latter?

If we ignore the other pleasures that most us enjoy, which person has had the better life? One who lives to eighty five but has only ever had a glass of wine at the weekend or one who 'only' lives to sixty five but has got gloriously sloshed every Friday for fity years?

The minority (ie *not* most of us!) who drink themselves to death by trying to have too much of a good thing can be dismissed as 'evolution in action'. They're certainly not a justification for boring the rest of us stupid.

We pay more than enough tax on booze to reimburse the state for what it's liable to cost to fix the damage and/or bury us so there's no reason to inflict yet more taxation on those who partake.

It makes me hopping mad every time I see some holier than thou activist (how they can be called activists when their idea of an enjoyable activity is campaigning to prevent the rest of us having fun?) blathering on promoting the latest fun killing bandwaggon when the entire population (apart from the tiny minority of idiots who would only find another way to kill themselves) would benefit by their keeping their mouths shut.

Why do people put up with it? How come these professional spoilsports are still given a platform to yell from? The key word in that question is of course 'professional' - meaning that they have wangled an income for trying to ban something pleasant. That explains why *they* do it, but has this nation become so incredibly sheeplike that no one objects, or is there a deliberate policy to bury the opinions of those who vocalise the frustration we all feel, as the anti-pleasure missile is revamped once more?

There must still be Catholicism lurking in the background of our government; take my word for it, the desire to starve/purge/whip ourselves lies just beneath their surface.

They obviously believe that doing without things is 'good for the soul' - though naturally that's as long as it's someone *elses* pleasure that's being proscribed.

  • 83.
  • At 12:50 AM on 14 Dec 2007,
  • Sam Scott wrote:

Why are we unable to see that banning something, making it less available, criminalising it .... etc etc appears to have no effect on people’s ability to get their hands on it. We have strict drug laws in this country, but we have millions of drug users. How is changing alcohol regulation going to be any different?

Do these people calling for more stringent controls on alcohol really think that it will change anything? Or is it a case of being able to label people as criminals for living their life a certain way?

The culture of this country is not going to change overnight just because a new law has come into effect. These things take time. Once more we see the powers that be making a knee jerk reaction to appease certain sections of the populace

  • 84.
  • At 01:58 AM on 14 Dec 2007,
  • Yvonne wrote:

I recently sent an e-mail to my MP saying I thought it was time the govt changed the times of alcohol sales, Dont sell alcohol until 6pm at night and put the age up to 21 to be able to buy alcohol. Drinking on the street should be banned. I am a youth worker and see the results of binge drinking with our teenagers. Near where I live there are many, many alcoholics coming out of shops at 10am with bags full of cheap wine & cider! Alcoholics cannot say NO, it is down to our govt to start to do something about it.
Yvonne

  • 85.
  • At 11:01 AM on 14 Dec 2007,
  • Lauren wrote:

I Think that the drinking age should be left at 18. you can keep putting the age up and up but people will still dirnk younger. if you keep teenagers from drinking its going to cause more binge drinking and rebellion because your telling them not to do it.
if you bring in alcohol as part of our culture and teach younger adults how to drink it in moderation there will be no problem. age limit has no factor..making the age go up will make it worse of for everyone elese there will be more dirnking on the streets and more violence.

  • 86.
  • At 01:27 PM on 14 Dec 2007,
  • nick wrote:

i have 2 sons both have regularly drank underage, just lately the local police have started raiding the drinking parties in the parks , so all they do now is drink it as fast as they can before the police come on night duty.This teachs them how to binge drink, we would be better off droping the drinking age to 16 as in a pub £5 will only buy 2 pints where as on the streets £5 buys 8 cans (20 cans of the real cheap stuff)

My firm opinion ,in this regard is that a law be enacted under which childern of a particular age are not allowed to have alcohal.

As regard alcohal,s respect,should follow the tradition and social behav we find in French,Italian and Spainish socities.

Quantity has been fixed there and strictly carried out that is a example for others.

There must be ban on its advertisment of any kind and through any option.


  • 88.
  • At 09:28 PM on 03 Mar 2008,
  • Chris wrote:

Instinctively I want to support raising the drinking age to 21. Older and wiser, you would think. However, when I think about it, I see more bladdered 21+ year olds getting into fights about girls (or nowadays, girls fighting over guys), than I do drunk teenagers hanging outside corner shops. I also remind myself of my own experience - I was told I couldn't drink all the time, and when I reached 18 I absolutely bombed. Weekend after weekend, which turned into night after night, of hard drinking. Why? Because I could. I was independent. I could do what I want.

Perhaps it is right to lower the drinking age. Perhaps though it's too little too late? Now that we have a culture of teens drinking, surely lowering the drinking age will just make it easier for them? The chavs will totally take advantage. Or maybe it would take a year or two to have any effect. I honestly don't know.

Either way, I quite agree that it's the alcohol-related violence that needs to be tackled more. More police on the streets and around leisure parks and local shops, more cars patrolling, and we'll catch more of the trouble makers. Then, if they are treated with zero-tolerance and prosecuted effectively, them and their friends will be less inclined to do it again - irrespective of age. Instead what we have now is nowhere near enough police on the streets and flimsy punishments like ASBOs and on-the-spot fines which are worn like a fashion statement and paid by the parents respectively. It all has a domino effect. This just leads to re-offending because the consequences are, quite literally, laughable.

  • 89.
  • At 10:37 PM on 03 Mar 2008,
  • Linda wrote:

I'm afraid a lot of the blame lies with parents. I'm not that old - under 40 - but if I had come home smelling of alcohol at 14 and 15 I would have been in so much trouble. Lazy parenting - it's much easier to shove the kid in front of a TV than actually interact with your child then later easier to shove them out on the streets with a few quid for cheap booze than take them to the youth club, insist they do their homework or heaven forbid do something sporty!

I even know of parents who think it's ok for their 15 year old daughter to go out to pubs and get absolutely smashed on a friday night! And these parents are not your average chavs - they are middle class professionals who think they are being 'cool' and liberal. The sooner we wake up and recognise alcohol as the dangerous drug it is, the better.

There is no quick fix mind. This country needs a massive culture shift away from alcohol as the ultimate social lubricant. I speak from experience - I grew up in a home where alcohol was never drunk in front of us kids. We both had our days of excess in our late teens and early twenties but now neither of us bother much, very take it or leave it. I spend my socialable evenings laughing at those normally 'together' people who get drunk and look like complete idiots at best or put themselves in serious danger at worst. I know I sound like a boring perrson but truly I'm not, I can just have a very good time without the need to abuse substances. I never saw my parents drunk, and my kids will never see me or my husband drunk so they'll not think it's normal or acceptable.

  • 90.
  • At 10:55 PM on 03 Mar 2008,
  • steve Lewis wrote:

Surely we should return to the day when a Landlord would say to you "Sorry sir, you've had enough" too many pub managers encourage people to get completly drunk. if people want to get drunk , having been refused service in a pub they would surely go home / or to a friends house and do it!!

  • 91.
  • At 11:20 PM on 03 Mar 2008,
  • John wrote:

I find it both insane and hugely hypocritical that we should have a drugs policy which legalises and champions the consumption alcohol, while placing other far less damaging recreational drugs under the illegal banner.

Alcohol seems to be the first run on the ladder for most people who chose to take drugs for recreational purposes, you would be hard pressed to find someone who started with an illegal drug first. And this I feel is the problem. People don’t seem to realise that when they take alcohol they are consuming a drug, and a powerful one at that. I can even remember being in a pub once and some chap saying “oh no, I don’t do drugs” and then continued to consume his alcoholic beer. Are people really this uneducated?

Why is this drug legal when you consider the hugely damaging effects it has on people and society at large? I’ve seen individuals; educated conservative people completely change personality within a couple of hours of taking alcohol. Usual non-violent people seem to go through some transformation where thousands of years of evolution are lost and they revert to some primitive state where reason and logic no longer prevail, instead replaced with a primitive lust for violence, confrontation and destruction. And I’ve seen first hand the way this drug can violently rip families apart.

This country needs to have a serious look at its drug policy, and stop sending mixed messages to young people. If your going to ban recreational drugs, make sure you ban the ones that cause the most damage to individuals and society at large, and stop giving alcohol a special place outside of that ban.

  • 92.
  • At 11:22 PM on 03 Mar 2008,
  • Jay Roche wrote:

24 hour drinking as pushed thru by Labour has finally come back to haunt them, if they willl ever admit it?

The impact it has had on the police, and emergency services was there for all to see, but was ignored. As a consequence it is now impacting on other areas of communities. The lack of these resources , needed on more important social issues, is being felt all over, and to blame it on supermarkets etc is again an attempt to shift the blame elsewhere.

More tax on alchohol. Are we not taxed enough in so many other ways ?

Those who enjoy a bottle of wine at home with a meal, have noticed the increase cost under Labour.

As for local councils policing this issue, have we not had consistent increase in local tax, with dubious rewards.

I live in West London (Ealing W.5) where even before the 24/7 drinking was introduced, decent restaurants either closed, or moved on, but pubs, bars, and nightclubs, along with their perceived neccesity for so called security staff prospered.
Was that the local council?

My wife is French, and we know the country, and the culture extremely well.

The problems we have in the UK simply do not exist !

It is an English problem. Admit it !

Deal with it.

Recind this stupid 24/7 law, and dare I remind Labour of it's mantra " Education, education, education "

P.S. Was a Labour supporter, and yes do like a Scotch, and a glass of wine..at home.


  • 93.
  • At 12:47 PM on 08 Mar 2008,
  • Derek Phibes wrote:

A nurse I know told me that she has been informed that:

1 - Due to 24hr drinking A&E are now getting increased numbers of violent drunks at all hours, rather than just the peak period recognised previous to 24hr drinking, and it is not possible now to schedule staffing to provide a safe environment;

2 - A&E nurses will therefore have to expect assault by violent drunks as a 'normal' part of the job;

3 - A risk assessment apparently identified drunken white males under 30 to pose the greatest threat of assault to A&E staff.

I wonder if Newsnight would be able to check numbers of A&E assaults involving alcohol, check alcohol sellers profits from 24hr drinking,
and make a case for some/all of those profits being diverted towards employing private security for A&E staff (as it seems the police regard such assaults to A&E staff as 'normal' as well).

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