THE government's first national alcohol awareness campaign was launched today with adverts showing binge drinkers becoming the victim of horrifying accidents, rapes and beatings.

The £4m Know Your Limits promotion is designed to show 18 to 24-year-olds the possibly tragic consequences of excess drinking.

It is hoped it will also appeal to an under-age audience.

Ministers admitted that drinking too much has become ''almost a badge of honour'' for many young people.

It also emerged that a scheme to provide clearer information about drinks' alcohol content on packaging and at the point of sale is due to be launched next year.

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker said: "The campaign dramatises the consequences of drinking irresponsibly by showing that it makes you feel invincible when you are actually more vulnerable."

The campaign to deter hard-drinking adopts shock tactics similar to those used to raise awareness of the dangers of drugs and smoking, and will feature TV commercials and print adverts.