UK: Blair warns industry to combat binge drinking
Tony Blair has warned the alcohol industry that it must do more to curb binge drinking in the UK. The prime minister said that the industry may be forced to pay for dealing with drunken behaviour.
Speaking to an industry-organised seminar on the National Alcohol Strategy in London on Wednesday, Blair said: "Millions of people drink alcohol responsibly every day and no-one wants to stop the pleasure.
"But there is a clear and growing problem on our town and city centre streets up and down the country on Friday and Saturday nights and other nights indeed too. And at a time when overall crime is falling alcohol-related violent crime is actually rising."
The prime minister warned that such drinking was in danger of becoming "the new British disease".
"The Government is working with the industry on the development of a social responsibility scheme which may well include some financial contribution to the costs of policing our town centres and tackling some of the cost of alcohol misuse," Blair warned.
Following the prime minister's address, Quentin Rappoport, director of the Wine and Spirit Association, said in a statement: "While we are pleased to see that the prime minister has acknowledged that millions of people drink in a sensible manner, we wholly agree that there is a need to crack down on binge drinking. The industry recognises that there is a significant problem in this country, particularly amongst the young. A collaborative approach is required to bring about a change of culture, which we firmly believe is achievable in the long term.
"A code of practice for the on-trade has already been developed, and we will be launching a similar set of guidelines for the off-trade in the next few weeks," Rappoport added.
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