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Citing alcoholism, UK bans drinking games

Associated Press / January 20, 2010

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LONDON - Bar-going Britons may soon be bidding goodbye to their country’s all-you-can-drink deals, as well as some of their more outlandish drinking games.

The government said yesterday that it was banning irresponsible promotions and boozy contests such as the “dentist’s chair’’ - where alcohol is poured directly into customers’ mouths - in an effort to tackle Britain’s binge-drinking problem.

The government says the ban will limit binge-drinking, but health specialists say the nation’s deepening alcohol problem would best be tackled by imposing higher minimum prices on Britain’s cheap booze.

The raft of new measures is “better than nothing,’’ according to Carys Davis, spokeswoman for Britain’s Alcohol Concern charity. But she said the restrictions “seem tame’’ compared with what the government could do by ending pricing practices that result in alcohol selling for less than water. “You’d be hard pushed to find a health organization that doesn’t support minimum pricing,’’ she said.

Britain’s alcohol consumption has risen by 40 percent over the past four decades, although per-capita drinking is still lower than in many other European countries, including Russia, Spain, Germany, and France.

Specialists say that Britons’ binge-drinking ways are increasingly putting their health at risk.

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