Hewitt Asks For Alcohol Tax Rise

Tax on alcohol should rise to reduce binge drinking among teenagers, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has said. Ms Hewitt urged chancellor Gordon Brown to “really increase” taxes on alcohol, especially on drinks such as alcopops, most popular with young people.

She told children’s paper First News it would stop teenagers spending money on drink, and ending up in casualty.

The Treasury said Mr Brown “routinely considers a wide range” of suggestions on tax ahead of the Budget.

Ms Hewitt said: “We’ve got a real problem with binge drinking among young people.

“We’ve got enormous numbers of young people, particularly on a Friday and Saturday night, ending up in the casualty department of hospitals because they’re drunk.

“They’ve fallen over and bashed their heads in because they’re drinking too much.”

Younger people are likely to drink heavily – 48% of men and 39% of women aged 16 to 24 drink above daily recommendations, official figures show.

Alcohol alters judgement and perception and can lead people to take risks with their health and safety that they would not normally consider.

Research shows 80% of pedestrian deaths on Friday and Saturday nights are alcohol related, as are nearly three quarters of peak time accident and emergency admissions.