As part of a bill to be introduced, British Prime Minister David Cameron has suggested a raft of changes aimed at reducing the number of underage drinkers in the United Kingdom, as well as controlling and eliminating other alcohol-related misdemeanors and problems.
The Prime Minister, according to a report by The Independent, is also expected to put his weight behind a rule for minimum prices of alcohol at different outlets and the prohibition of cheap liquor in the UK market.
A report in The Guardian pointed out that an increase of minimum price of alcohol by 30p would help save 300 lives... a 40p increase could protect 1,000 lives and a 50p or more of increase could guard 2,000 lives from premature deaths.
Cameron is expected to say: "Every night, in town centres, hospitals and police stations across the country, people have to cope with the consequences of alcohol abuse. And the problem is getting worse. We've seen a frightening growth in the number of people, many under-age, who think it's acceptable for people to get drunk in public in ways that wreck lives, spread fear and increase crime. This is one of the scandals of our society and I am determined to deal with it."
Details of the plan, according to The Sun, are expected to be unveiled when Cameron meets medical staff at a hospital in the North-East.
The sudden attention being paid to the problem, it is believed, is the result of the realisation that the culture of excessive drinking costs the UK's National Health Service (NHS) up to £2.7 billion a year. A Telegraph report provides a break-down of the costs incurred and points out that as much as £1.02 billion is partly attributed to alcohol abuse, while a further £167.6 million is directly attributed to alcohol and £2.1 million to drugs.
Included in the raft of suggestions from the Prime Minister is the idea of a "drunk tank". These, already in use in the U.S., Russia, Poland and Ukraine, are prison-like structures used to house people until they sober up. The principal advantage of this idea, it is believed, will be that it keeps hospitals from getting overcrowded.
Meanwhile, public buses will reportedly be pressed into service to pick up people from the street and transfer them to the afore-mentioned "drunk tanks". A recent government report estimated that the total cost of alcohol to society, including crime and lost work, was between £17 billion and £22 billion annually.
A Daily Mail report indicated that hospital admissions (cases connected with alcohol and health) stood at around 200,000 admissions, with primary alcohol-related diagnosis 40 percent higher than in 2002-03.
The problem is apparently worse in the North-East of the country, where buses have been introduced at Soho and Norwich as a safety measure. Some 469 people died due to drinking in the last year alone, up from 170 in 1991 - a rise of 183 percent. This means there is an alcohol-related death every 18 hours in the North-East of the UK.
There is some opposition expected when the bill is introduced as there could be legal opposition relating to European Competition law as outlined in a BBC report. Industry groups such as the Portman Group, representing manufacturers, and the British Beer and Pub Association, have increasingly promoted their own responsible drinking campaigns to guide people towards responsible drinking.