THE largest ever government drinking campaign was launched today in a multi-million pound bid to curb Hampshire's chronic boozing.

It comes after the Daily Echo revealed how the county is in the midst of a drink crisis with alcohol responsible for seven out of every ten people taken to Southampton General Hospital's casualty department on Friday and Saturday nights.

A study also exposed Southamp-ton as the third worst city in the country for alcohol-fuelled violence.

Today ministers launched a campaign to teach drinkers their alcohol levels and raise awareness of the health risks of too much boozing.


£6m campaign The Department of Health's £6m Know Your Limits campaign kicks off with a series of adverts on TV, radio and billboards depicting the number of units in individual drinks.

This will be followed by a £4m binge drinking campaign run by the Home Office next month.

Southampton University liver expert, Nick Sheron, who is launching a pilot screening programme gauging the extent of liver disease in the city, welcomed the move.

He said: "It is fantastic. It is really important information and I'm really pleased to see the government for once talking up to people and not down to them.

"The drinks industry spends £800m a year in advertising and government were spending £1-2m on telling people about the down sides of drinking. As far as young people are concerned they are getting mixed messages."

The NHS recommends that men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units a day and women should stay under 2-3 units to prevent long term harm.

Drinkers doubling their recommended limits are 13 times more likely to suffer liver disease and five times more likely to be struck down with mouth or larynx cancer.

Other illnesses directly connected to excessive alcohol intake include haemorrhagic stroke, hypertension and breast cancer.

The DoH drive explains that most people who will die because of their drinking are not alcoholics. Instead they are drinkers whose habit of regular drinking over a number of years has contributed to the damage to their health and the shortening of their lives.

Public health minister Dawn Primarolo said: "Glass sizes have grown larger and the strength of many wines and beers has increased, so it's no wonder some of us have lost track of our alcohol consumption.

"This campaign is all about helping people understand how many units are in their favourite drinks, and helping them to keep an eye on their intake for the good of their long-term health."