Counting the cost of drink

Most of us like a drink every now and then. It eases social awkwardness but most of us also know that it can become a demon unless we are careful.

Individuals usually find that balance for themselves but there is a wider public interest. We accept that those who use drink need to be kept away from driving. We know that the demon drink drives many over the top and that there is a huge social cost.

The North East has the highest rate of under 18 alcohol-specific hospital admissions in England, the highest rate of under 18s in alcohol treatment and the highest rate of 11-15-year-old drinkers. OneNorth East child is admitted every day to hospital because of alcohol.

We have to find ways to make drink less attractive.

Balance, the North East Alcohol Office has just launched a campaign to highlight the influence that nearly a billion pounds of alcohol marketing and sports sponsorship has on children and young people.

All this is very apparent in the FA Cup Final. Balance rightly says that sports sponsorship should be banned. Sport and booze are not a match made in heaven. Ending sponsorship need not harm football, as we found out when tobacco advertising was banned at motor racing, snooker and golf events.

Balance is also sponsoring local youth football teams, including Wallsend Boys Club under 11s. I commend their efforts to give children the best start to a healthy life.