Rise of “le binge drinking” — and tighter policy

What causes binge drinking? It’s hard to say but in Europe, it does seem to predominate in northern countries where public policies coincidentally can limit hours and sales channels, sometimes with a dose of high taxes to boot. Southern European countries have generally consumed more alcohol, had more lax policy but have lower rates of binge drinking. Maybe it’s that the drink of choice is wine in the south. Or maybe it has to do with more permissive parenting, where tasting wine is not forbidden, but rather encouraged in moderation at table with parents.

The whole constellation is being called into question now that “le binge drinking” has arrived in France. Surprisingly, an NPR story specifically mentions the arrival of youth binge drinking as a failure of permissive parenting. I still cling to the idea that learning about wine en famille can provide a good base for moderation–these teens are slamming vodka, after all. Binge drinking is a complex phenomenon with many influences ranging from physiological, social, economic to even policy itself (some argue that a more restrictive policy fuels the binge mentality). Still, its rise in France means that national policy now allows only those 18 and up to purchase drinks. And some towns such as Lyons are placing bans on the sale of alcohol from 10 PM – 6 AM. Even though wine has been considered different from other alcoholic beverages–it has even been considered as food in France–it is obviously affected by the new policies.

It’s sad to see that France, where wine has been seen as the national drink and even as a part of the national image, has now ended up shifting closer to where we are in practice and policy. But they do have a president who doesn’t even drink wine. Who knows, maybe they will even have a list of party schools soon.

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6 Responses to “Rise of “le binge drinking” — and tighter policy”

  1. Education is the key!
    For my WINE MBA thesis I inquire into the topic of “The value” of wine education and did a quantitative analysis about it.
    It came out as a triple Win-Win-Win situation where course takers, retail and society came on top because wine education leads to an increase in the frequency of consumption (occasions where one can enjoy a glass of wine) but not an increase in intensity (drinking more per occasions).
    You can read what Meininger’s Wine Business International wrote about it last month folllowing this link: http://richardsagala.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/meiningers-wine-business-international-november-2011/

  2. I agree with you, “Binge drinking is a complex phenomenon” and there are no easy answers. Some children will be more prone to binge drinking due to genetics; however, allowing our kids to go to war before they can legally drink in this country is ridiculous. Moreover, when alcohol is completely off limits, it becomes one more rule that a teenager must break.

  3. When did the Puritans move French?

  4. Damnint I cant edit

    “When Did the Puritans move to Franch?”

  5. Hi Richard – Yes, I’m inclined to agree with you. I look forward to checking out your research.

    Andrea – Yes, it’s multifactorial to be sure. I guess the cultural influences of the Mediterranean were thought to hold more sway; it will be interesting if binge drinking is found in other countries in the region.

    Weston – France has been becoming more puritanical and less promotional of wine. Drunken driving laws have gotten tighter, advertising much more restrictive, and now 18 years old as a minimum age and curfews! Quite a lot of changes in the past couple of decades, and you see the impact in the wine consumption rate.

  6. I don’t have any idea about it but seems to be
    changing rules and cultures for wine in France.


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