Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Binge drinking on the rise in France and England

The French government is in the process of raising the Minimum Legal Drinking Age from 16 to 18; this would bring French laws into line with most of the rest of Europe.

The bill is part of a larger piece of legislation addressing health, and would not only stop beer and wine sales to youth under 18 (they are already banned from purchasing spirits and liquor), but would also outlaw open bars—which are linked to binge drinking—and outlaw the overnight sales of alcohol at gas stations.

While total alcohol consumption has fallen almost 50% in France over the past fifty years , the amount that young people drink has been steadily increasing.

The number of alcohol-induced hospitalizations for minors under age 15 grew 50 percent between 2004 and 2007

Other changes could be on the way for European drinking habits as well: Britain’s Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson would like to set a minimum price on alcohol sales in the UK . The proposed price would be £1 for restaurants and pubs (about $1.45) and 50p in stores (about $0.73). Prime Minister Gordon Brown is not enthusiastic about the plan, despite the fact that binge drinking in England is also on the rise.

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