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Politicians mull super strength booze ban in Hertfordshire
Politicians are pondering banning super strength booze from shop shelves in Hertfordshire in a bid to reduce the £400m taxpayer bill caused by binge drinking.
Hertfordshire County Council's cabinet has voted to explore running a similar scheme to one in Ipswich, which banned super strength lagers and ciders being sold over the counter.
With drinking in pubs and nightclubs increasingly seen as expensive, there are concerns some people use strong alcoholic drinks from supermarkets and off-licences before going out.
The move comes as the new Hertfordshire Alcohol Strategic Plan was approved.
Jim McManus, director of public health at Hertfordshire County Council, said the scheme could be implemented in Hertfordshire if it is successful in Ipswich.
He said: "They are hoping it will reduce the amount of cheap, strong drinks so people may be less likely to pre-load on very very strong drinks. We might see a reduction in the alcohol levels in people’s blood.
"They are also hoping that there might be a reduction in alcohol-related violence.
"If it looks like it will work here, it might do the trick here, but we are still looking at it."
The proposals will also allow Hertfordshire Constabulary to carry out "stings" to find licensed premises selling alcohol to underage teenagers.
In other developments, there will be a number of initiatives to "educate" people about the effects of harmful levels of drinking and a targeted drink driving campaign will be introduced.
Between 2010 and 2013, there was an increase in the number of people arrested for drink driving. In 2010 and 2011, 71 people were arrested for drink driving, but in 2012/2013, this spiked at 106.
Cost of alcohol abuse in Hertfordshire.
Local schools will also be involved with the new proposals, with teachers being encouraged to talk about alcohol, both at primary and secondary schools.
Though the county has fewer alcohol-related hospital admissions than the national average, the number of people across the area that are drinking "high" risk amounts, is above than the national average.
The Department of Health claims there is "strong evidence" that for every £1 invested in specialist alcohol treatment, £5 is saved on health, welfare and crime.
The Alcohol Strategic Plan is part of Hertfordshire County Council’s public health strategy, which ties in the plan to cut smoking and obesity across the county.
Mr McManus added: "We published a health strategy last year and indicated some of our big priorities- healthy weight, physical activity, alcohol use and cutting smoking and put forward an action plan that says what we will do on each of these, so they all tie in."
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