BBC News

Ads target young binge drinkers

By Jim Reed
Newsbeat reporter in Doncaster

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image captionPoliticians will look at how effective the campaign is in a year's time

Britain's biggest drink companies have launched a £100m advertising campaign to try to make under-25s pace themselves on a night out.

Posters will start to appear on billboards and phone boxes telling readers to eat before drinking and alternate pints of beer with the odd pint of water.

The campaign has been designed by Drinkaware, a charity funded by the alcohol industry and paid for by 35 firms that make or sell alcoholic drinks.

"Changing the drinking culture won't happen overnight," said the charity's boss Chris Sorek.

"Simple tips like eating before going out drinking, pacing yourself with soft drinks, looking after your mates and planning your journey home can help people stay safe."

Newsbeat showed some of the new posters to groups of young drinkers in Doncaster.

"To be honest with you I think people are just going to do what they want to do and that's that," said Victoria from Retford.

Have Your Say: What would you do to combat binge drinking?

Free water call

"I think it's a nice idea and they have the right intentions but I'm not sure people will listen.

"You get to the point where you know you should stop but you go beyond that and just want to keep on drinking."

As part of the new campaign, the slogan 'Why let good times go bad?' will appear on 17 million cans, bottles and supermarket shelves.

Bars will also be encouraged to offer free pints of water to drinkers on a night out.

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image captionThe posters encourage people to eat before going out drinking

"Some are bound to take no notice, but others will read them," said 22-year-old Matt.

"If you drink more water you are not going to feel it so much in the morning."

Politicians, doctors and other health workers have been worried for years about the amount of alcohol young adults, and especially under-25s, are drinking.

According to research from Drinkaware, 50,000 16 to 24-year-olds are admitted to hospital in England and Wales each year with drinking related injuries or illnesses.

The firms that make and sell alcohol are now under heavy pressure to do their part to reduce levels of "binge drinking" in the under-25 age group.

Politicians have said they will support the new advertising campaign for a year and then carry out an independent review of its effectiveness.

Cheap booze ban?

If the adverts don't work, then it is possible the government will push through stricter rules to reduce the amount of alcohol people are drinking.

These could include a ban on cheap booze offers in both bars and supermarkets and tougher restrictions on advertising alcoholic drinks.

Some of the measures are already being put in place in Scotland.

New rules from 1 September ban 2-for-1 drink deals and force bars to make free water available on tap.

Supermarkets will have to display all alcohol products in one area - in other words no beer alongside curry or barbecue products.

Police will also carry out stricter checks to stop bars and clubs selling alcohol to anyone under 18.

Even tougher rules could be brought in later this year that allow local licencing boards in Scotland to set a minimum price for alcohol.

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