i Editor's Letter: The problem of binge-drinking


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The Independent Online


Thank God it's Friday, eh? Will you celebrate by hitting the pub with colleagues or friends for a quick snifter or more? Today, how many you have is dictated as much by price, as the ability to "hold your drink" – whatever that scientifically meaningless phrase means. It certainly won't be government or peer-group pressure to drink less, because – unlike with smoking – there is none.

In this mix there is a real North-South divide. Incidence of binge-drinking among our young is increasingly greater in Northern towns, because places like Newcastle have clusters of "youth-oriented bars which encourage excessive drinking".

You could look in vain for some of the prices quoted there in every bar in London for a year. They remind me of prices we paid way back during my own far-off student days in drizzly Exeter. In the South today, more are drunk before they even hit the clubs - especially on weekends, because so much "pre-drinking" goes on at home, where the booze is cheaper.

Who cares about the bars' brazen cynicism? Not, of course, the individual beneficiary. Who will turn down the chance of a boozy, cheap night out with good mates? The issue is the cost to both the individuals who get so "mortal" that violence or injury follow; the emergency services who must clean up the mess, literally and metaphorically; and the rest of us for whom town centres become no-go zones at the weekend.

I know I will get the inevitable backlash from those of you who think it your inalienable right to get bladdered cheaply, no matter the cost to the rest of us, but is this really a price worth paying?