Society and government policy currently demonstrate contradictory tendencies in relation to alcohol. Government policy promotes longer opening hours, but also more stringent control of public drinking through ASBOs and alcohol dispersal zones. Young people favour heavy drinking and the ‘night time economy’, while older generations oppose the extension of pub opening hours. The media debates rationing treatment for those with self‐inflicted disease, but portrays national mourning at George Best's death. In an attempt to learn from the efforts of the past, Virginia Berridge uncovers the strikingly familiar world of temperance and ponders whether we are perhaps at a ‘tipping point’ in culture in relation to alcohol?
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