Sunday 18 February 2018

UK tackles binge drinking with promotion ban

Jack Doyle in London

Drinks promotions that encourage bingeing will be banned in Britain from April this year, Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced yesterday.

Pubs, clubs and bars will be prevented from holding speed-drinking competitions and offering "all-you-can-drink-for-£10"-style offers.

From October all licensed premises will be required to offer drinks in smaller measures and tap water for free.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said he wanted to target the "most irresponsible practices" and cut alcohol-fuelled public disorder.

But the Conservatives accused the government of encouraging a binge-drinking culture with 24-hour licensing laws. Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling pledged to "take back control of town and city centres".

A Tory government would give councils powers to impose a late-night levy on off-licences open after 10.30pm and drinks venues open after midnight.

The tax revenues would be used to pay for the cost of extra policing and clearing up in problem areas. The Conservatives are also committed to additional taxes on problem drinks, such as alcopops and super-strength beer and cider.

Maximum fines for landlords and off-licences who repeatedly sell to children will be doubled, Mr Grayling said.

"It's time we took back control of our town and city centres on a Friday and Saturday night, and turned them back into places where people can have a good night out without the fear of being caught up in a culture of binge drinking and anti-social behaviour," he said.

"We need to scrap the government's late-night licensing regime, give local people back powers over the number of licensed premises in their areas, and introduce charges for late-night licences.

Ministers have dropped plans to allow councils to ban happy hours and bulk offers in supermarkets and off-licences.

But, from later this month, councillors will be given powers to call for reviews of licences. Currently the police or local residents must complain.

Mr Johnson said: "Alcohol-related crime costs the UK billions of pounds every year and while the vast majority of retailers are responsible, a minority continue to run irresponsible promotions which fuel the drinking that leads to alcohol-related crime and disorder.

"These practices have a real impact on society, not to mention the lives of those who just want to enjoy a good night out.

"The government and the industry have a duty to act, this mandatory code will allow us to take action against an issue which affects us all."

Irish Independent

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