Way forward is education, not taxes
The UK is already the second highest taxed country in the European Union in tax on alcohol and we are still tackling alcohol-related issues. The industry has been working hard to establish a high level of social responsibility but the real key to tackling the issues of young people being admitted to hospital through the abuse of alcohol is education.
The way forward is not to tell children about the evils of drink in isolation, they need to be aware of all the wider issues surrounding the use of alcohol and how to make an educated choice about alcohol consumption. The BII Certificate in Alcohol Awareness qualification offers this. Feedback from young people who have already completed the course makes it clear that their approach to alcohol has been altered in a positive manner.
Cheapness and availability of alcohol is not an issue in other European countries, we have to look at a cultural change in the UK, not banging up taxes and making alcohol harder to obtain. Cultural change begins with educating young people now and also having a realistic view that young people will experiment with alcohol but with a sound backing of education will not end up as a horror statistic.
Laws are being flouted
and ministers must act
government's own figures show a complete failure to tackle Britain's growing drink problem.
When the new Licensing Act was introduced, we were promised a continental drinking culture, but in reality we've seen a dramatic leap in alcohol related A&E admissions and a surge in drunken violence.
We have laws in place to guard against these incidents, but they just aren't being enforced - when laws are flouted, licences must be revoked or suspended.
The buck must stop with ministers - it's their job to hold Britain's pubs, bars and off-licences to account for the country's binge-drinking culture.
Don Foster MP
Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture, Media & Sport Secretary