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Foreign Office launches campaign to combat excessive holiday drinking

Excessive drinkingNew statistics show peer pressure and cheap drinks can lead to more than a holiday hangover. In a new campaign under the banner “On holiday, don’t let drink do your talking”, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is encouraging young holidaymakers to think before and while they drink to avoid putting themselves at risk of serious harm.

Expats are being asked to share this important message with visiting friends and family to help ensure they spend their time enjoying their holidays, not in hospital, jail or worse.

New research shows that around half (51%) of 16-24 year olds say they are likely to drink more on holiday than at home.  Almost two thirds (62%) attributed this to alcohol being cheaper. Peer pressure is also a major factor, with 40% of those surveyed saying they had felt pressure from friends to drink more than they wanted to.*

Consular staff in Portugal have already been called on this summer to come to the aid of British nationals who find themselves in trouble after drinking to excess.

Simona Demuro, British Consul for Portugal, said:

"Going on holiday is a great opportunity to relax and have fun with family and friends, and enjoying a drink can be part of that.  We’re not telling people to stop drinking, but we do want people to be aware of the consequences of drinking to excess – and our research shows almost half of young people understand them already."

Laws and customs regarding alcohol vary from country to country, for example, in Portugal it is against the law to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.5 grams per litre or more. This roughly translates to a glass of wine or beer with your meal.  In Portugal it tends to be “free-pour” rather than specific measures, which makes it harder to control how much you are drinking. So it’s important to know and respect local laws, including on alcohol consumption, to avoid a night in a police cell or even a criminal record.

Drinking can impair judgement. The effect of being hospitalised or arrested overseas goes far beyond a ruined holiday and can have a devastating impact on family and friends – financially and emotionally.  So our message is have fun in the sun, but drink responsibly so you don’t put yourself at risk of harm.

One example of what can happen is the story of Jake, who fell from a balcony after a night out with friends. His moving video story can be seen HERE.

The FCO is also encouraging holidaymakers to show respect and consideration to other holidaymakers and local people while on holiday - the findings revealed that excessive alcohol consumption resulted in young British holidaymakers engaging in risky or disrespectful behaviour:

•    Almost a quarter (23%) of young British holidaymakers have gone swimming while drunk on holiday abroad
•    More than one in ten (11%) young Brits have put themselves in a vulnerable situation with a stranger while drunk on holiday abroad
•    Over a quarter (26%) of 16-24s have done something while drunk on holiday that they were ashamed of.


Top tips to ensure alcohol doesn’t ruin your night out or even your whole holiday:

•    Remember tolerance to alcohol may change in the heat and bars in Portugal often serve larger measures than in the UK.  It is worth alternating your drinks with water or soft drinks.

•    Protect your drink – to avoid the risk of your drink being spiked, keep an eye on it at all times and don’t accept drinks from strangers unless you see them being poured at the bar.

•    Stay close to your friends – if you are drinking with friends look out for each other. If they seem drunk or act out of the ordinary, make sure you get them home safely. Never let a friend go home alone or with someone they don’t know.

•    Drink respectfully – this includes showing respect and consideration to other holidaymakers and local people while on holiday.


British Embassy Lisbon


W: http://www.gov.uk/fco

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