Government calls for ‘all-you-can-drink' promos to be banned

19 January 2010 by
Government calls for ‘all-you-can-drink' promos to be banned

"All-you-can-drink" promotions at pubs and bars could be banned and compulsory identity checks introduced under government plans to curb binge-drinking.

The proposals for England and Wales, introduced by Home Secretary Alan Johnson, would also ensure that pubs had to offer small measures of beers, wines and spirits.

They would also put an end to speed-drinking competitions.

Johnson also told Radio 4's Today programme that he had not ruled out the possibility of minimum pricing on alcohol but did not regard the move as a "magic bullet".

If the Government's plans receive approval in Parliament, they will form a new mandatory code for retailers.

The proposals came in for immediate criticism from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: "We have consistently supported legislation to crack down on irresponsible promotions in pubs and supermarkets. However, with nearly 70% of all alcohol now sold through supermarkets, the pub-centric measures announced today are lop-sided and unbalanced.

"Pubs are struggling and the country is in recession. This is not the time for the Home Office to be burying business in yet more unnecessary red tape. All the powers needed to deal with problem premises already exist. The trouble is poor enforcement of the current laws. Just adding to that pile is unhelpful.

"As a population, we should be encouraging young people to drink in properly supervised premises like pubs. Pubs are at the heart of responsible retailing and are being demonised because this is easy, in terms of legislation. What we need are targeted policies which deal with personal responsibility, aimed at the 10% of the population who drink 40% of all alcohol."

Nick Bish, ALMR's chief executive welcomed the fact that the Government's proposals targeted the "irresponsible minority" following industry lobbying to tone down the proposals.

He said: "Concerted and united lobbying activity by industry minimised the worst excesses of the Government's original proposals and although no-one wants a national code this at least targets the irresponsible minority and not the responsible majority.

"Irresponsible promotions are often the result of financial desperation rather than good commercial practice or common sense; they don't help the businesses that run them and they don't help the image of our industry; we will be well rid of them."

But the he warned that the Government's attempts to prescribe ‘free tap water' and smaller wine and spirit measures showed signs of "legislative creep" and was best dealt with using good marketing and common sense.

He warned: "The legislation for the code is open ended as it stands, a blank cheque. We can't afford more bites at the cherry especially as the two main political parties appear to be conducting a pre-election auction of legislative hits on our beleaguered sector."

MPs to call for 50p minimum price for alcohol >>

Government resists calls for minimum alcohol price >>

Government Health Committee calls for minimum alcohol price >>

By Neil Gerrard

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