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Published:  23 July, 2008

Britain is on the brink of an epidemic of alcohol-related problems, and licensing changes will just make it worse, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) announced this week. The chairman of the college's alcohol committee, Professor Ian Gilmour, told Radio 4's Today programme that: We are facing an epidemic of alcohol-related harm and to extend the licensing hours flies in the face of common sense, as well as the evidence from other countries.' He added that it was fanciful' that Britain would become a Mediterranean-style, wine-sipping, non-binge-drinking culture by changing licensing regulations.' The college recommends reducing availability and raising prices as the only way to reduce alcohol-related harm. The college's attack on the Government's new licensing legislation comes soon after Sir John Stevens, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, called for a slowing' of the new licensing laws' introduction. New research has revealed that drinking three or more US units of alcohol a day (which are larger than a UK unit) significantly increases the risk of suffering a stroke. Moderate drinkers are at the lowest risk.