Monday, July 14, 2008

France to crack down on under-age binge drinking

France will ban the sale of alcohol to minors and drinking in public near schools as part of a broad crackdown on binge drinking among youths, the health minister said in an interview published on Sunday.

Roselyne Bachelot said that a recent study showed an over all decline in alcohol consumption among youths but the frequency of drunkenness was increasing.

"Almost half of youths said they had had five glasses of alcohol on a single night on at least one occasion in the previous 30 days, which is the definition of binge drinking," she said in an interview with Journal du Dimanche newspaper.

She said she was working on a new bill that would also ban promotions known as "open bar" which allow customers to drink as much as they want to for a fixed price.

"We are also going to ban open bars ... which are a classic at student parties and which encourage binge drinking," Bachelot said.

She said the number of under-25s hospitalised because of excessive drunkenness had doubled between 2004 and 2007.

"Drinking alcohol in public places close to schools will also be forbidden," she said.

She told the newspaper that at present there was a grey area surrounding sales of alcoholic drinks to teenagers aged 16 to 18, with different rules depending on the kind of alcohol and whether the sales point was a bar, a club or a supermarket.

She said her bill would unambiguously ban any sale of alcohol to under-18s anywhere in France.

Another measure will be to ban sales of alcohol in filling stations. Bachelot said that at present, such a ban exists only from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and the new rule should help curb drunk driving.

Bachelot said the measures, which she expected will come into force in 2009, would be accompanied by an advertising campaign featuring youths in a heavenly environment that turns hellish after they have been drinking.

In May, a government body in charge of fighting drug and alcohol addiction said it was considering banning "happy hours" during which bars offer cheaper drinks early in the evening to attract customers. Bachelot's interview made no mention of this.
source: International Herald Tribune