Alcopops are the root of "Binge Drinking"!

This article appeared in the Times today and I thought it put forward an interesting viewpoint that although a little tongue in cheek has some resonance:

Sweet reason: get tough on the real cause of binge drinking – lemonade

WANT TO CURB teenage binge drinking? Don’t worry about the alcohol. Ban mixers. Mixers are the problem. Mixers are the menace. It is not Jack Daniels that is creating the cirrhosis generation. Nobody in his right mind under the age of 40 and not sitting gap-toothed on a stoop in Kentucky would drink neat bourbon. It is Coca-Cola that is the procurer, being the ingredient that makes it taste sweet.
Go to any town centre on a Saturday night and the kids are not drinking alcohol. Not real alcohol. Not anything that actually tastes like alcohol. They are lusting after the same tang that has been their friend since pre-nursery school. Sugar. Alcohol lite. That is what kids drink. Problem being, it is not the content that is watered down, but the taste. Rum remains rum, but put blackcurrant in it and it tastes like Ribena. Which, as we all know, is the perfect accompaniment to a bag of chips and a Turkey Twizzler and is, as such, a flavour that endures into young adulthood.

Like orange, like lemonade, like all the syrupy juices that are laced and poured endlessly down juvenile necks in every pub across Britain. What used to rot your teeth now rots your liver, too. That’s progress.
The most morally bankrupt product on the market is the alcopop. It has one reason for being: to get kids drunk. Those who do not really enjoy alcohol, yet fear peer rejection if they eschew the communal vomiting or violence at midnight, have now found their brand. Thanks to the ever-growing family of alcopops, kids can become as ill, aggressive and overconfident as the next man while never troubling their taste buds with anything more complex than a glorified lollipop. Re-education is required. If you are over 18 and your favourite drink is an alcopop, here is the message: you’re a wuss. Not because you don’t really like alcohol, but because you don’t really like alcohol and you haven’t the strength of character to say that to whoever is getting the round in.
Alcopops taste like soft drinks. The taste you truly enjoy is found in soft drinks. So have a soft drink. Unless you really enjoy being sick or punched in the face, in which case, move to a medium-sized town in Britain, get them in and enjoy the fun. Alcopops were created because brewers and licensees cottoned on to what kids were drinking: vodka and lemonade, gin and orange, rum and black, whisky and coke, spritzers.
Watch a teenager take his first nip of whisky, neat. See that grimace? The dreadful surprise? The sudden gasp for air? That is not a person in the throes of pleasure. Whisky needs work, whisky needs time. Take the Coke out of whisky and it would play as big a part in teenage existence as steamed broccoli or a nice sports jacket. The Danes invented lager; teenagers invented lager top. Anything to remove the taste of malt and hops. So opening times and licensing laws are peripheral to the problem. No mixers to be purchased with alcohol by anyone under the age of 21. You want vodka, you drink it straight. Now we’ll see what becomes of the binge. If the scheme takes off, it could be utilised in other areas.
Want to stop kids smoking? Don’t ban fags, ban filters. “Silk Cut Extra Mild? How old are you, son? Eighteen, I thought so. Well, you know the law. Right, we’ve got Camel untipped, Gitanes, they’re French, very nasty, an ounce of Old Holborn . . .”
Ever smoked Gitanes? If this government were serious about public health it would be like National Service in the Fifties, compulsory at the age of 18. One a day, for a month. Nobody would go near a packet of cigarettes after that. The biggest laugh is that from 2003, France enforced the same “Smoking kills” label that is carried on packets in Britain. What is the point?
Smoking Gitanes actually tastes like a pact with death anyway. Presumably the French do it in the belief that, in heaven, an angel dispenses proper fags. Some years ago, the boxing correspondent of the now defunct Today newspaper was following up a story about injury and death in the ring. His investigation took him to the offices of the British Boxing Board of Control. Just as Today was a rookie newspaper, so its boxing man was an earnest sort, but lacking in experience. When the BBBC’s spokesman decided to have a little fun at his expense, he fell for it. The spokesman suggested a return to bare-knuckle bouts. “When you hit a fighter back then, he stayed hit,” he said. “The gloves cause the damage because people take a pounding.”
The reporter duly filed this story and unleashed PR hell. The funny thing was the basic logic of the wind-up was not far wrong. The more extreme an activity becomes, the less pleasurable it often is. Binge drinking on the current unprecedented scale is a direct result of quite literally sweetening the pill. Drink companies push sugary, high-alcohol products at people still young enough to be recently excited by the prospect of Easter eggs. Go figure that we then have a problem. Now, of course, exuberant overindulgence is a part of young adulthood. In America, the Christian right has espoused the Vow of Purity among teenagers. “I promise God, my future mate and myself, to keep my mind and body morally clean and pure so that when I enter the marriage covenant, I will be able to give myself with a completely clean conscience to my mate.”
To their dismay, though, girls (and boys) just want to have fun and a recent study in the Journal of Adolescent Health discovered that those taking the vow were four times more likely to agree to oral or [edited] than those who did not, in the belief that their purity was not compromised. So, you see, there is a God. In other words, kids will be kids. They will do stupid stuff. Our duty is to keep a more watchful eye on the money-grabbing adults, peddling their sickly poisons and leaving the rest to sweep away the by-products of blood and vomit.
What price licensing laws when the latest Bacardi Breezer creation is 22 per cent alcohol? Bet it doesn’t taste that way, though. Bet it tastes like the best bubblegum in Willy Wonka’s sweetshop.

Quote from:,,21131-1755837,00.html

I thought this might promote some debate.
Hoodies are the root of anti-social behaviour too! We all now that kids didnt drink before WKD hit the shelves. Cocaine wasnt a problem before people started smoking weed, and the benefits system was ok before the aslym seekers arrived. No one was murdered before rap music became popular. Osama Bin Laden invented terrorism. My point? - people think that complicated issues can be solved with simple solutions, and are unwilling to face the probelm head on.

Take away alcopops and kids will just start drinking lager again. It wont prevent uderage drinking though.

Our fragmented consumer society is not caused by drink, and nor is it solved by attacking people's drinking habits. The fact that people continue to come together in public spaces, like the pub, to get to know their friends and colleagues is surely a good thing. The fact that people drink alcohol to take the edge of a fairly unsatisfying everyday life is surely not a bad thing. If there is a problem with Britain's pubs at all, it is that too few other areas of public life offer anything more attractive. And if there is a problem with Britain's drinking culture, it is not that people drink too much or too often - it is that they are not doing much else as well

Wow, the guy who wrote that has got a bit angry about that!

Fair point raised but surely its just people who dont know their limit and/or how many times they can go storming over their limit, swamp their pit, etc without becoming a filthy stinky alchoholic!
Bacardi Breezer is cited. This is more expensive than Bacardi & Coke. So why would anyone bother?

The hidden issues here are 'posing' with a labelled bottle (like people do with Becks etc).
But much more importantly, women wanting to avoid date rape drugs. So they buy a sealed container, with a small opening and carry it around with them. No G&T in a glass to get spiked.

No moral guardians commenting on this one.
I agree. I see no problem with people drinking, and have no problem with people getting pissed as long as they dont make it someone elses problem too. However thier does seem to be some kind of British pride behind it all. From an early age kids are basically encouraged to drink, because they see thier parents doing it down the pub. When they get into thier teens they drink with thier mates to get pissed because its a laugh. When you get into your late teens, going out to town with your mates is one of the few ways to escape your worries at the end of a day. When working at a later age, having a drink or two at the end of a day is a perfect way to chill out. At the end of the day, people drink to socialise. However this is rarely seen in other countries basically because people in Europe and Asia, for example, prefer to socialise while eating a meal. That, and the fact that peoples lifestlye here is predominantly laid back and less active.
I depends on the situation though really. A gang of teenagers drinking on a street corner is a problem because they are going to end up causing trouble. A group of lads sharing a crate of lager while watching a few DVDs is not a problem.
OK, I'm a bloke in his late thirties who can handle is drink, but I wouldn't ever dream of putting anything in a tumbler of decent Bourbon except for a handful of ice cubes.

Alcopops are, above all, naff. I agree that we need to educate young people how to enjoy alcohol (not abuse it) which does, after all, involve at the very least getting tipsy.

I grew up in a pub and was introduced to booze at a very early age. I associate drinking with convivial company, conversation and having a giggle, not hanging around on street corners and lobbing bottles at shop windows.

Like many others on this forum I decry the passing of the traditional, independently owned local boozer. "Vertical drinking" and chain "fast booze" pubs are at the heart of this problem. In much the same way that cheap, aggressively marketed crap fast-food creates obesity and sloth, cheap, aggressively marketed crap alcohol creates drunkeness and violence.

YES - THERE's NEVER ENOUGH (ha ha boom boom).

Compare the following cultures:

US. Drinking is seen as an embarrasing pastime, with brown bags for liquour bottles and bars that have all the atmosphere of the Moon.

Europe. Drinking is social and food and family orientated.

UK. Drinking is something you do to get p!ssed.

We do have a drinking problem, reinforced by media and popular culture. It is seen as a good thing to get p!ssed, never mind just drinking for social companionship or to enjoy the drink, or to get out of the house or to drink with a meal.

10 years ago I loved going to pubs as you normally found a good congenial atmosphere. Nowadays I avoid them and frequent restaurants or drink wine at home.
As ive put on another post, it depends on the situation - gangs of youths walking around the streets at midday drinking cans of special brew is a problem, because its inevitable that they are going to start causing mayhem. A group of youths drinking a few bottles while watching a few DVDs is not a problem. Why? The ones walking around te streets are drinking because they havent got anything else to do or anywhere to go, so as soon as they finsih drinking and are pissed, they will start causing trouble for a laugh. The lads watching DVDs are preoccupied and are sitting in drinking as a social thing. Theyve got something to do, and somewhere to be so the only mayhem thats going to come out of it is between themselves. Lager, bacardi breezers, whisky - there all alcohol and have the same effect. Its were they are drunk and by who that makes the difference to the outcome. As well as the person themselves. Common sense is needed, and a lot of trouble caused by drunks is by the ones with no common sense. Most of them just think that being drunk gives them the right to act out of line, because they can blame it on the alcohol. Sober or pissed, you act the way you choose to.
the drinking culture has adapted with the PC brigade, and other factors of course IMHO, once upon a time you never saw anyone in a pub that was under 18, also the demise of youth clubs scouts/guides etc has all meant more and more teenagers are at a loss on what to do and how to spend their excessive pocket money.

maybe after a few years of catching up with the rest of europe as well we wont see chavs etc cramming as much cheap beer down their necks before heading for nightclubs, as there will be not such a rush they might handle more than 3 budweisers before taking on the whole world at fisty cuffs.

Also maybe the 14-16 year old gals who frequent pubs/clubs will stop their antics where there always seems to be a fight of'that's my burd' type fights...

ahh that feels better.
"goes back to his own stella now"
And then, you have kids at midday who decide to go and spend thier money at the local Bargain Booze (who often sell drink to anyone), and that sets them up for the rest of the days programe of mayhem. Even if they cant buy drink, its easy for kids these days to get thier hands on weed and other durgs. They to be over 18 and have about £20 to get pissed with thier mates. But a £10 cut of weed from the local supplier (often one of thier mates) who doesnt give a toss about thier age and they are sorted.
Oh, for the old days when the Times was a real newspaper that got stuck into real issues. It's still an interesting article, but is it written to inform us or to impress the boss? In this article, somehow, 'money-grabbing adults' (??) are ultimately to blame.

Alco-pops are the grotesque product of Tony Blair copulating with the breweries a few years ago - it was a financially-driven concession to the breweries - a relaxing of control forced through by incessant lobbying. And now, we have New Labour/brewers distancing themselves from any blame for the problem of 'binge drinking' - as if it's arisen from nowhere. Drinks companies' adverts are slick and stylized, and their products promoted on telly as glamorous - the adverts are chock-full of beautiful, carefree people enjoying life - and it's all thanks to wonderful alcohol - nobody falls over, and there isn't a pavement pizza in sight. So, a small minority of young girls get quickly pissed, and a small minority of testosterone/alcohol-fuelled young lads start fighting. The Daily Mail, et al. exaggerate the problem by invoking 'the end of society as we know it'. I'll concede that there is a problem, but it's not out of hand. Luckily, the vast majority of young drinkers are responsible and don't actually end up trying to kill each other at the end of the night. They get taxis home, collapse on the bed/couch/floor and wake up with a tongue like the inside of Tarzan's loincloth - but that's boring - and isn't going to sell newspapers, is it Mr. Murdoch?

The problem will ease hopefully, when we get extended opening hours.
MrPVRd said:
Nowadays I avoid them and frequent restaurants or drink wine at home.
Buckfast or Mad Dog? :wink:
frenchperson said:
Alco-pops are the grotesque product of Tony Blair copulating with the breweries a few years ago - it was a financially-driven concession to the breweries - a relaxing of control forced through by incessant lobbying. And now, we have New Labour/brewers distancing themselves from any blame for the problem of 'binge drinking' - as if it's arisen from nowhere. Drinks companies' adverts are slick and stylized, and their products promoted on telly as glamorous - the adverts are chock-full of beautiful, carefree people enjoying life - and it's all thanks to wonderful alcohol - nobody falls over, and there isn't a pavement pizza in sight.
I agree that the adverts are totally at odds with real-life "welcome to the latin quarter...etc etc" and all those sultry birds - you never get half-a-dozen fat blokes ogling at some tarted-up 15 yr old who got into the nightclub with no hassle at all.'ve only gone and spoiled it with that same old repetitive crap about "it's Tony Blair's fault...etc etc". What a load of bull! Going by that argument, alcopops didn't exist until 1997? Don't you remember Hooch, the brand which almost single-handedly created the market for alcopops. Along with Two Dogs, Hooch was one of the first alcopop brands launched in the UK and paved the way for the billion pound market now dominated by the likes of Smirnoff Ice, Bacardi Breezer, WKD and Red Square. The alcopop market actually exploded into our pub culture in 1995.

I suppose blaming John Major wouldn't be as much fun, would it?
It is fair to say that alcohol has been a fixation of the young for some time, and that mindless violence and belligerent behaviour has often accompanied a young persons night out. The difference would appear to be that once again young people are not having to face any personal responsibility for their actions, and there is no-one to put them straight. A few years ago you really couldn't assemble on street corners and get pissed. Furthermore, if you did you, were not arrested but you were carted home where you got all manner of shit from your parents (who were both there). Of greatest importance was the understanding that you should go out and have a good time but should you cross the line you would be hauled into Court (once a shameful experience) and be seen by the public at large as a tosser who was too immature to handle a drink, not glorified!

If this sounds like a rant from some baby-boomer, I am less than 40. The speed of our decline is what should surprise. Youth unchecked will descend into anarchy by any means possible, testosterone is a powerful thing.
i being 16 cannot comment on the vast majority of chav-types floating around this lovely country, but i can say that me and my mates are very sensible drinkers - we very rarely drink and if we do it is at someones house, noone is allowed to get too p!ssed and if anyone kicks off they are either restrained until they calm down or given a swift kick in the happy sacks.
the problem with alchopops is the taste, the taste of lager,vodka,etc helps you keep your drinking pace nice and slow [ie cant down a large bottle of vodka without feeling like your mouth is on fire] with alchopops you can drink the same amount of alcohol in less time because it tastes nice.

p.s no i do not drink alchopops - i stick to fosters, budwieser or stella :-D
This is of course not a new problem by any means. We Brits have a real problem with alcohol and always have done.

In the 1700s Brits got through 10 million gallons of gin in a year. Not bad going for a population of only 6 million!

The following was reported in the newspapers in the 1800s

More than one-fourth of the daily earnings of the citizens of the slums goes over the bars of the public-houses and gin-places. On a Saturday night, butchers, bakers, greengrocers, clothiers, furniture dealers, all the caterers for the wants of the populace, are open till a late hour; there are hundreds of them trading around and about, but the whole lot do not take as much money as three publicans - that is a fact ghastly enough in all conscience. Enter the public-houses, and you will see them crammed. Here are artisans and labourers drinking away the wages that ought to clothe their little ones. Here are the women squandering the money that would purchase food, for the lack of which the children are dying.

The time to see the result of a Saturday night's heavy drinking in a low neighbourhood is after the houses are closed. Then you meet dozens of poor wretches reeling home to their miserable dens; some of them roll across the roadway and fall, cutting themselves till the blood flows. Every penny in some instances has gone in drink.
Could be a editorial piece from any of todays papers.

From the 1900s we get this
According to one estimate, every male drinker consumed on average 73 gallons of beer and 2.4 gallons of spirits a year. At 2d a pint, beer could cost as little as milk. Drinking was seen as something men did. In The Classic Slum, describing life in turn of the century Salford, Robert Roberts commented that 'men who did not frequent public houses or drink at home were usually sneered at by other males, but not by women, as "tight-fisted", "hen-pecked" or "not proper men at all"'. But women were also drinkers. In Poverty: A Study of Town Life, Seebohm Rowntree records his detailed observation of three York pubs in 1900. He found that a quarter of the customers were women - and just over 10% children, probably fetching jugs of beer for their parents.
So lets just face up to it. We are a nation of p!ssheads and always have been. Hic


I can't say I've ever drunk an alcopop but when they first began to appear - what, ten or twelve years ago? - I guy I played rugby with was a real enthusiast, only he used the alcopops as mixers. Thus, whilst the majority of us were drinking a butch and manly pint of bitter or lager (or Guinness for the real show offs), he was getting stuck into 'double gin and hooch' and consequently getting completely tw@tted after two or three rounds.

Guess what profession this individual was ( he played centre by the way - we wouldn't let an alcopop drinker in the pack)?

Anyone who answered schoolteacher would be correct. An ideal figure to have looking after your kids, so anyone with their offspring at Eton needs to watch out.

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