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Brazil alcohol ban hard for retailers to swallow

Government tries to limit TV advertising and sales along highways

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A decade after it introduced some of the toughest antitobacco laws in the world, Brazil is proposing similar legislation aimed at curbing growing rates of alcohol abuse.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva wants to prohibit daytime alcohol advertising on radio and television. His government temporarily banned the sale of alcohol on federal highways earlier this month and aims to implement similar measures at urban gas stations.

"The country can't stand by with its arms folded while hundreds of people, especially the young, die each day from the abusive consumption of alcohol," Health Minister José Gomes Temporão said.

The measures come on the heels of two studies that showed more Brazilians are abusing alcohol and at an earlier age. The percentage of people over the age of 12 dependent on alcohol rose to 12.3 percent in 2005, up from 11.2 percent in 2001, according a study by the Brazilian Center for Information on Psychotropic Drugs and the Federal University of São Paulo.

"The data also indicates the consumption of alcohol in ever younger age groups and suggests the need for a revision of control, prevention, and treatment measures," Pedro Gabriel Delgado, an expert on the issue at the health ministry, said in an e-mail response to questions.

The government is focusing on advertising and drunk driving.

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