giovedì 1 luglio 2010

The Florence Newspaper: Increase in Binge Drinking Leads to Stricter Regulations on Sale of Alcohol

In the past decade alcohol abuse by teenagers and young adults has been making headlines worldwide. This epidemic had not hit Italian headlines until recent years. As a reaction the local Florence government has increased efforts to manage alcohol consumption amongst the younger population.

The style of drinking in Italian culture has taken a dramatic turn. Enchanting nights with a bottle of wine, has been replaced with shots, spritizers, and bar crawls. The younger generation has been bombarded with advertisements targeted for students such as “5 shots for 5 Euros,” “3 Drinks for 10 Euros,” and “All You Can Drink Bar Crawls.” None of which seem to appreciate alcohol, but rather encourage the abuse of alcohol.

The need for medical assistance due to excessive levels of alcohol consumption has reached an all time high. Indeed, by examining research over the past ten years there has been a steady number of people over the age of 14 that engage in alcohol consumption, in statistical form 70% of the Italian population has been doing such. Although over the years that percentage of people consuming alcohol has not changed there has been a distinctive change in behavioral patterns of those consumers. Critics argue that previous to this epidemic, younger drinkers would engage in alcohol consumption by having a glass of wine at a family dinner, a traditional Italian custom, now that same age group is drinking to purposively obtain a high level of drunkenness. This phenomenon is known as binge drinking.

Florence is acting upon this risky behavior of teens and young adults by reissuing a pervious ordinance. Back in February stricter regulations were placed on selling alcoholic beverages, however those guidelines were only valid up until last week. Once again the Mayor has sought to continue efforts in regulating alcohol sales by signing a new ordinance. Now until September 30th there will be a ban on selling take way alcohol between the hours of ten at night until three in the morning. This is supported through Article 687 in the Italian Criminal Code which authorizes police to prohibit for limited periods of time at specific location the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. The law will be enforced with hefty fines, found in Article 650 of the Italian Criminal Code. If a vendor is caught making an illegal transaction they could face three months in jail, and a fine of 206 Euros.

By limiting the hours that take away alcoholic beverages are sold, the hope is that there will be fewer gatherings in the streets and piazzas of young drinkers. In the long run, fighting binge drinking will be more effective if the existing articles of the Italian Criminal Code are accurately enforced. Articles that prohibit bartenders to serve visibly intoxicated consumers need to be followed correctly. Discoteca’s and Bar’s throughout Italy have been idealizing the image of drinking through advertisements and promotions, if there is pressure on these vendors to increase their responsibility this image may change for the betterment of society.

Written by Emily Marullo
Politics Intern at The Florence Newspaper

Original Article

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