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Last Updated: Monday, 23 May, 2005, 19:33 GMT 20:33 UK
Pubs to scrap Happy Hour drinks
Drunk man
Binge drinking costs the UK around 20bn each year
Thousands of pubs across the UK are to end "Happy Hour" promotions as part of a campaign to curb binge drinking.

The ban is being introduced by all 32,000 members of the British Beer and Pub Association.

It hopes the measures will help combat the increase in anti-social behaviour and binge drinking, and it also wants bars that act "irresponsibly" closed.

The government, which estimates the problem of binge drinking costs Britain about 20bn a year, welcomed the move.

Other cheap and free drinks deal may be axed as part of the campaign.

Association spokesman Mark Hastings told the BBC News website that happy hours had no place in the industry and pub companies wanted to encourage people to enjoy themselves responsibly.

The scale and cost of drinking in the UK

"Our members have committed themselves to stop running promotions which can fuel excessive drinking and we're looking for support from the government and the police.

"Clearly there's been a lot of debate around binge drinking and anti-social behaviour and happy hours have been highlighted as one of the reasons for this. That's why we decided to take this step.

"I don't think it's a silver bullet solution but it will certainly have an impact."

Among those joining the campaign are all pubs owned by Carlsberg, Heineken, Scottish and Newcastle, Youngs and Theakston.

The All Bar One, Slug and Lettuce and Pitcher and Piano groups are also supporting the initiative, as is Diageo, which owns the Guinness brand.

The association is also calling on all pubs and supermarkets which sell cut-price alcohol to follow its example.

'Right direction'

Home Office minister Hazel Blears said the BBPA initiative would help end the "grossly irresponsible promotions that encourage speed drinking and in doing so increase the risk of alcohol fuelled violence".

"I fully support this guidance as part of the trade's ongoing work to help tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder," she added.

"The availability of this guidance will help reduce alcohol-related disorder while offering good practical advice to pubs and clubs so they can still be competitive and offer customers a wide choice."

Alcohol Concern described the ban as a "step in the right direction".

Earlier this year the home affairs select committee said it wanted to see an end to cheap drinks promotions thought to encourage binge-drinking.

Committee chairman John Denham said: "The attention on 24-hour licensing misses the point - problems of disorder are occurring now.

"The underlying problem is of too many people drinking heavily in small geographical areas."

He said longer term policy should be on proper city planning "with diverse activities supported by adequate transport and other facilities".

See the drunken scenes from one of Britain's town centres

How much is too much?
20 Jan 05 |  Magazine
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07 Feb 05 |  UK Politics
Church concern over alcohol abuse
25 Jan 05 |  Northern Ireland


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