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UK

Out goes the "dentist's chair" in booze crackdown

LONDON (Reuters) - Tough new rules for pubs and clubs -- including a ban on drinking games like the infamous “dentist’s chair” -- will be introduced this year in a drive to stamp out binge drinking, the government said on Tuesday.

Glasses of white wine are lined up for students to drink at the end of their evening butchery class at the Ginger Pig butchery shop in central London August 25, 2009. REUTERS/Simon Newman

Promotions that encourage heavy drinking will be banned, but bulk offers of cheap alcohol in supermarkets will not be affected.

The Home Office said five measures to tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder, which it estimated cost the UK economy 8-13 billion pounds a year, will come into force in two stages.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said he did not want to target responsible drinkers on low incomes, but that the government and the industry had a duty to act.

“These practices have a real impact on society, not to mention the lives of those who just want to enjoy a good night out,” he said.

The first three measures, ban irresponsible drinking promotions such as “all you can drink for 10 pounds,” “speed drinking competitions” and the dentist’s chair, made famous by the celebrations of footballer Paul Gascoigne at Euro ‘96, where drinks are poured directly into the mouth by others.

Those practices and ensuring free tap water is made available to revellers are to be introduced in April.

A second set of rules enforcing compulsory ID checks and making sure smaller alcoholic measures are available come in during October.

The government said any premises that breach the new mandatory code will face a range of penalties.

Publicans and vendors could lose their licences, be fined up to 20,000 pounds or face six months in prison.

Reporting by Stefano Ambrogi; Editing by Steve Addison

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