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We treat alcohol like fruit juice now ..this has to stop

The night out was jokingly billed as “the messiest” in town but the reality was nothing to laugh about.

Hammered teenagers guzzled strong lager for £1 a pint at the rowdy student club night.

Tottering drinkers quickly lost all powers of self-control and wrestled with each other to be served first.

Worryingly, these sort of shameful scenes in a Portsmouth club are not unusual and are played out in almost every student town in the UK.

For a week the Daily Mirror watched Britain’s binge-drinking business in full flow. We travelled the country and saw a sad litany of idiotic behaviour, arrests and injuries as students took full advantage of all-you-candrink deals and shots of booze costing as little as 69p.

The Government will today announce plans to put a stop to “irresponsible promotions” and “all-you-can-drink” nights.

Campaign groups say a clampdown is desperately needed. Alcohol Concern said the nation’s health is in grave danger because booze is being marketed and drunk as though it were orange juice, with no respect for its toxic effects.

And the evidence is there for all to see. We were spoiled for choice with cut-price clubs and had to spend only a few minutes on the internet to find thousands of promotions enticing us with cheap offers.

The promised “unlimited” booze had students downing shots at the bar in drinking games, staggering around the dance floor and being sick in the toilets.

Our trip to the so-called “messiest student night in Portsmouth” took place at Route 66’s Three For All night. The club limited sales to three drinks at a time but it didn’t stop people downing their pints and running straight back to the bar.

Portsmouth is just one place where students are encouraged to get out of their minds on cheap drink.

In Central London last Wednesday we bought 10 glasses of wine for just £1 each at the Cheapskates event at Soho’s Moonlighting nightclub – in an area where a glass of wine usually costs at least £3.50. The night advertises drinks for less than £1 “a throw”, charging students £5 entry. One clubber said: “It’s amazing. You can get a vodka and coke for 90p.”

Hundreds of students at the heaving club threw themselves around the dance floor and fell over playing a limbo game.

Bar staff were busy all night and there didn’t seem to be a limit on how much booze could be crammed into an order.

On Thursday we sampled an all-you-candrink night costing students just £9.95 at Route nightclub in Colchester, Essex.

We were offered unlimited beer, cider, spirits and alcopops until 2am.

Girls in tiny skirts struggled to walk as they got drunker. One fell over, bashing her head on the floor before being asked to leave. One drunk was chucked out by doormen at the end of the night. At an all-you-can-drink for £10 night on Friday at The Priory in Doncaster, South Yorks, labelled “Doncaster’s biggest midweek mash-up”, we were offered double spirits as part of our unlimited drinks binge.

Abusive

It wasn’t long before the free booze produced its first unsavoury moment as a drunk lad was thrown out. He became abusive and threatening and was arrested.

Five officers held him down before cuffing him and putting him in a police van.

Our investigation also took us to Darlington, Co Durham, and Leeds where teens seem to be unaware that cheap student nights could cost them dearly one day.

Campaigners warned that the number of drink-related illnesses and deaths is rocketing.

An Alcohol Concern spokeswoman said yesterday: “We need to look at what has got us into this state of binge drinking – and one of the main factors is the price of alcohol.

“If you look at consumption next to affordability over time you will see that consumption goes up as the price goes down.

“Low prices make alcohol a much more affordable commodity and respect for the fact it’s a toxic substance is lost.

We treat alcohol like orange juice in the way we sell and market it. It has to stop. A minimum price would make sure supermarket prices on alcohol are higher. This would mean pubs wouldn’t have to price their drinks so low to compete.”

The World Health Organisation last week announced that it believed higher prices are a key to stopping alcohol abuse.

But a spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association said: “We would like to see all-you-can-drink nights abolished but it’s unnecessary to have a minimum price.

“If people are going to go out and get drunk that behaviour is not driven by prices. It is an issue of irresponsible behaviour. Pubs that promote alcohol in an irresponsible way are bringing the industry into disrepute and putting their licence at risk.”

So close to death with no warning

Peter Ivory never dreamt his “social” drinking was harmful – until he collapsed and was told just one more drink could kill him.

His liver was so badly damaged by cirrhosis, he had to have a transplant five years ago.

Peter, 63, said: “The scary thing is you don’t realise the damage you are doing.

“There were no warning signs until it was too late. I never realised my drinking was a problem.”

He still has to take drugs every day to stop his body rejecting the new organ.

Shock

Dad-of-two Peter, who still suffers health problems, went on: “I used to enjoy a drink in the evenings with friends or a bottle of wine at home. I never binged.”

It took nearly 40 years of drinking before Peter’s shock diagnosis.

He fears his liver would have given out a lot earlier if cheap booze had been around when he was young.

Peter added: “I’m a ordinary guy who has held down a good job all his life, yet I ended up drinking myself nearly to death without realising it.

“I’m lucky I got a second chance. I saw a Tshirt which said Love Life, Love your Liver.”

Pubs must deny louts

Running pubs properly and not more expensive booze will beat bingeing, says a major chain.

“It’s not the price it’s the quality of management and staff, said a JD Wetherspoon spokesman.

“Wetherspoons stop serving people when they get out of hand.”

“The only losers on the minimum price are pensioners and people without much money.”

He said just because Wetherspoons sells some cheaper drinks it did not mean people would overdo it. He added: “Ultimately people’s health is down to themselves.”

Daily Mirror

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