Authorities in the UK are expressing their concern over the increasing menace of binge drinking and seem to believe redesigning town centres could be a way out.
Town centres, traditionally associated with shopping or retail, have come to be seen as a notorious destination for binge drinking.
AdvertisementTown centre have seen a dramatic rise in new pubs and bars, and the creation of dedicated, fashionable drinking circuits aimed at young drinkers. Now everyone is wondering the wisdom of such a phenomenon.
Simon O'Brien, the deputy inspector of policing for Ireland, told a seminar in Cardiff that redesigning town centres could be more effective than taxes on alcohol.
And he called on council licensing and planning committees to work together to prevent town centres becoming magnets for drunken young people and no-go areas for families.
The event, organised by the British Medical Association Wales, brought together leading experts to debate what action is needed to tackle binge drinking and its impact on health.
Dr Richard Lewis, the BMA's Welsh secretary, said: "We are seeing increasing alcohol use in society which is having not only a profound effect on an individual's health but it also causes problems in society, including violence, road accidents and alcohol-related crime in its broadest sense.
"And we mustn't forget the impact it has within the home and on families."
Dr Zul Mirza, the president of emergency medicine at the Royal Society of Medicine told the seminar he regularly saw children, teenagers and young women admitted to hospital with alcohol poisoning.
"We cannot live in a society where it is cheaper to buy alcohol than water, or where you can go into a petrol station and buy alcohol when we say don't drink and drive," he said.
"A minimum price has to come in, it's certainly one of the ways forward."
Town centres on Friday and Saturday nights should be places that cater for more than just teenage and twenty-something drinkers. They should be more welcoming towards other social groups, including families and older people, stresses Dr Murray Simpson is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Dundee, Scotland.
Yet others talk about increasing the price of alcohol as a possible disincentive, but such is its attraction many dont think it is that easy to raise prices beyond a point - for one the alcohol lobby is very powerful, and secondly, as a nation the UK seems to be hopelessly addicted to drinking. A far-reaching change in social mores is called for to face the challenge of alcohol, it is felt.
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