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The day in numbers: 55 million

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LONDON, England -- The European Union is the world's heaviest drinking region, according to figures provided by the European Commission. The commission says it is committed to supporting programs combating alcohol-related illnesses, curbing underage alcohol consumption and to pressure beverage makers to promote responsible drinking. But the plan, which will target binge drinking and drink-driving, particularly among young people, stops short of a ban on alcohol advertising, opting to educate rather than restrict the industry's sales or publicity.

55 million: The number of adults who are estimated to drink at harmful levels in the EU -- equivalent to more than 10 percent of the population.

195,000: The number of people killed each year by excess alcohol consumption in the 25-nation bloc.

13: The average age when Europeans begin getting drunk.

23 million: The number of Europeans dependent on alcohol at any time -- 5 percent of men and 1 percent of women.

11: The number of liters of pure alcohol consumed by the average adult in the EU. Equivalent to 1,400 small beers, according to figures provided by the European Commission.

3: Alcohol is the third-biggest cause of illness and early death in the EU.

25 percent: More than a quarter of traffic deaths on EU roads -- at least 10,000 per year -- are caused by drink-driving.

A young woman pictured after a night out in the UK.

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