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UK goes on a pounds 7bn booze-up.

Byline: STEPHEN HAYWARD

BRITONS spent a record-breaking pounds 7billion on booze during the last year - sparking new fears about binge-drinking and alcohol-fuelled crime.

Latest figures show that sales of wine, beer, spirits and cider jumped by seven per cent despite Government attempts to curb alcohol abuse.

The drinks bill includes more than pounds 2.4billion on wine - an 11 per cent rise on 2003; almost pounds 2billion on spirits - up seven per cent; and pounds 1.7billion on beer - a nine per cent increase.

Last night alcohol campaigners described the figures as "horrific".

They will put pressure on ministers, such as Health Secretary John Reid, and the drinks industry to tackle binge-drinking which costs pounds 20billion a year in lost days through hangovers and sickness as well as NHS and policing costs.

The figures were revealed as Birmingham announced it was banning "happy hour" promotions in bars and clubs in a bid to end drunken violence.

A spokeswoman for the Al-Anon Family Group - a support group for families affected by alcohol abuse - said: "Sadly, people don't realise the damage excess drinking does to the family. For every one alcoholic, there are 10 other people affected."

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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 17, 2004
Words:202
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