Drinkaware, the UK responsible drinking charity, is launching a GBP100m (US$1.6m) campaign to offer free pints of water to 18-24 year olds in a bid to encourage young people to evaluate their drinking habits.

The Campaign for Smarter Drinking is being launched alongside new research from Drinkaware, which shows that one in three young adults (32%) claim they don't need advice about alcohol.

The research also showed that almost one in four (23%) have been ashamed of their appearance when drunk, 25% have not known how they got home, nearly one third (31%) have blacked out, one in ten (9%) have been in a fight and just under half (48%) have vomited due to drinking too much.

In a new approach to tackling alcohol misuse, pubs, bars, phoneboxes, supermarkets and off licences around the country will carry campaign posters, drink mats, stickers and shelf strips presenting tips for smarter drinking, Drinkaware said today (1 September).

Free pints of water from pubs, bars and clubs are designed to encourage young adult drinkers to pace their drinking is one of four creative executions people will see linked with the campaign.

"When people are drinking and having fun it can be easy to get carried away and not recognise the point when a good night can take a turn for the worse," said Chris Sorek, chief executive of Drinkaware, which is part-funded by the industry. 

"Changing the drinking culture in Britain won't happen overnight, but with the right support, information and advice, young adults can change their own drinking patterns.

"Some young adults think they know all there is to know about alcohol, but simple tips like eating before going out drinking, pacing yourself with water or soft drinks, looking after your mates and planning your journey home, can help them stay safe and prevent their good times going bad."

The campaign is being funded by the drinks industry and run in partnership with the Government.

As the "biggest ever" responsible drinking campaign, Drinkaware says it will present young adults with practical tips to help them curb the ill effects of their drinking: eating a meal; drinking water or soft drinks between alcoholic drinks; looking after mates and planning their journey home. 

Each year, alcohol misuse for all ages costs the NHS around GBP2.7bn, according to statistics from Drinkaware.

Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for the Home Office, said: "Alcohol-related violent crime has fallen by a third since 1997, but no-one is suggesting the job is done. We must educate our young people that binge drinking is socially unacceptable and can have grave consequences. This is not just the responsibility of the government, but for us all, and that is why I am pleased the drinks industry is making this commitment.

"We are determined to tackle alcohol fuelled crime and disorder which damages our communities, ruins lives and costs the UK economy billions each year in police and hospital resources."