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May 18 2009
Thames Reach Broadway targets super-strength drink to protect drinkers Access to super-strength lagers should be restricted to protect street drinkers, according to a new campaign launched by Thames Reach Broadway (TRB). A single can of nine per cent super-strength larger contains contains four and a half units of alcohol, which exceeds the government's daily recommended safe alcohol limit, between three and four units for men and two to three units for women. With this is mind, TRB propose that restrictions be placed on such drinks, making them harder to obtain and therefore limiting the health risk they pose, especially to street drinkers. The organisation surveyed 4,000 people using their services in 2004 and found that 43 per cent had a recorded alcohol problem and this, combined with the fact that the number of alcohol-related deaths has increased by nearly a fifth in the last four years, has led to the decision that action needs to be taken to ensure the risks posed by alcohol are minimised. To achieve this, they are urging the government to introduce measures to reduce how cheaply and easily available such drinks are. Included in their proposals are a call for a new 6 per cent ceiling on the level of alcohol for canned and bottled super-strength lagers and ciders. They also call for an increase in tax on the super-strength lagers, a system which has already proved successful in Ireland. TRB has also proposed the introduction of health warnings, similar to those seen on cigarette packets, informing drinkers of the dangers these drinks pose. A statement by TRB's chief executive, Jeremy Swain, made it clear the motivation for the campaign was purely to protect the health and lives of drinkers, saying: "Our campaign is not a moralistic one. Our intention is simply to highlight the impact of the super-strength lager phenomenon." However, not everyone is certain about how successful the campaign will be. 'John', a hostel resident in South London with a history of alcohol abuse, doubted how much of an impact such changes in the law would have. He told us, "people will still drink. When people want to get drunk, they'll find a way somehow." However, TRB is positive that taking steps to lessen the impact of high strength lagers will help protect not only current drinkers, but help prevent a new generation suffering from the adverse effects of alcohol.
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