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Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Could the WAG be following it’s Celtic cousin’s lead in tackling binge drinking?

I think the front page of the Western Mail certainly makes for encouraging reading re. tackling the cheap prices of drink in Wales. In response to the Scottish Government deciding to draw up measures to stop sales of cut-price alcohol, it seems the Welsh Assembly Government wants to do something similar. Of course, the WAG can’t implement any licensing changes without approval from Westminster. But pressure will apparently now be put on the UK Government to make sure change does happen.

This can’t come a moment too soon either, with strong action needed NOW to tackle alcohol misuse in Wales. Doctors see first hand how heavy drinking destroys lives. The health consequences of binge drinking are serious and severe. It’s related to more than 60 medical conditions including heart and liver disease, diabetes, strokes and mental health problems.

The BMA has for some time now wanted to see licensing laws altered to take into account the points below;

• Higher taxes on alcoholic drinks and this increase should be proportionate to the amount of alcohol in the product.
• An end to irresponsible promotional activities like happy hours and two-for-one offers.
• Standard labels should be displayed on all alcoholic products that clearly state alcohol units, recommended guidelines for consumption and a warning message advising that exceeding these guidelines may cause the individual and others harm.
• The legal limit for the level of alcohol permitted while driving should be reduced from 80mg/100ml to 50mg/100ml throughout the UK.

One thing’s for sure, if radical action isn’t taken soon on this issue, then the many problems that go hand-in-hand with excessive drinking will get worse and the annual £70-85 million cost to the Welsh NHS of drink-related incidents and diseases will only increase.

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