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Paris fights binge-drinking

A new campaign by Mayor Bertrand Delanoe tries to persuade young Parisians to shun the fashion for drinking themselves to oblivion at weekends. France used to look down on the British habit of getting smashed and staggering in a stupor through the streets but now it is happening here.

For the past couple of years, the government has been trying to curb le binge drinking, as the practice is known, but to little avail. A survey last autumn reported that 43 percent of young French had drunk at least five glasses of alcohol in the same evening in the preceding month. Increasingly, girls are victims of la biture express, the translation for binge drinking. In another sign of the new culture, kids are also putting videos on the internet of their drunken antics.

Things are not yet as bad as in the UK, but binging is alien to France’s tradition of moderate drinking and against the steady overall decline of alcohol consumption over the past four decades. France even has a non-drinking president who toasts state visitors with mineral water, something that would have been unthinkable in the old days.

binge-drinking problem

Binge-drinking is a fight that Paris, France wants to win!

The teenagers of France and Italy are about average in the alcohol stakes, according to the last European comparison. The British, Danes, Portuguese and Czechs get plastered most often. Young Finns, Swedes, Hungarians and Spanish are among the milder consumers (difficult to believe it about the Finns).

The phenomenon is especially worrying in Paris, says the mairie. Unlike the British, with their pub crawls, French youngsters prefer to faire la fête in their or their parents’ homes. Dr François Lecomte, head of the emergency service at Cochin, one of the biggest hospitals, told le Parisien recently that his cases of intoxicated under-18s had doubled in 10 months. Five under-18 teenagers a month were being brought in, he said.

There are still differences in binge-drinking on each side of the Channel. Marie Choquet, a research director at Inserm, the national health research institute, suggested in le Parisien last October that the alarm might be exaggerated: “Young French people do not drink in the same way as the English. They consume a lot but in a more spread out way. There is a specific French way: they eat, dance and talk — activities which mean that you do not stock alcohol in the same way as when you down a bottle spread out on a sofa.” Only five percent of 16-25 year-olds indulged in regular binge-drinking, she estimated.

source: Times Online

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