Cameron's speech, made during a visit to a hospital in the North East, described binge drinking as one of the 'scandals of our society' and called for innovative solutions to be deployed to promote responsible drinking.
Ahead of the speech and visit, Cameron said the forthcoming Alcohol Strategy, which is expected to be published next month, may recommend police officers in A&E departments or specialist paramedic crews in town centres.
The strategy will also look at so-called 'Drunk Tanks' or overnight cells, popular in Europe and the USA, specifically designed to hold intoxicated drinkers without draining police station or hospital resources.
“This isn’t just about more rules and regulation. It’s about responsibility and a sense of respect for others. This is an area where the drinks industry, supermarkets, pubs and clubs need to work with government so that responsible drinking becomes a reality and not just a slogan,” Cameron said.
The strategy may also suggest some form of higher minimum pricing for alcohol, over and above the rule that will prevent drinks being sold for less than the tax paid on the alcohol in question which comes into force later this year.
Various regional strategies have been explored by the Scottish Government and local authorities in England, including in Manchester where a 50p a unit price was proposed, but so far there has been little progress. There is also no consensus opinion on whether any law would be allowed under competition rules or EU trade legislation.
Drinks producer backing
Binge drinking costs the NHS £2.7bn a year, according to Government figures and Henry Ashworth, chief Executive of the Portman Group who represent drinks producers, welcomed the speech by the Prime Minister and said the industry was on side to tackle the issue.
"The Prime Minister is absolutely right to highlight the behaviour of the reckless minority who spoil the responsible majority's enjoyment of a sociable drink. As producers, we are determined to be effective partners in tackling public drunkenness, which is an embarrassment to us all, and to encourage people to drink responsibly,” he said.
Last year the Liberal Democrat party reportedly considered plans for an additional tax on drinks served in pubs and bars to cover the cost of binge drinking.
At the time Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub association condemned the plans as extra taxes were not what publicans and drinkers needed, in her opinion.
In 2010/11 there were 200k hospital admissions primarily as a cause of alcohol which is up 40 per cent since 2002/03.
Minimum pricing has been discussed this month in our LinkedIn group - join in the discussion with other hospitality professionals in our group here and let us know your thoughts on what more the industry can do to tackle binge drinking.