Page last updated at 08:32 GMT, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

1 drinks offers 'irresponsible' says Alcohol Concern

Man drinking a pint of lager

"Irresponsible" cheap drinks promotions in Welsh pubs and clubs lead to serious health problems, a charity says.

An Alcohol Concern survey of licensed premises in Newport, Swansea and Wrexham found half the venues running promotions on alcoholic drinks.

With doubles of spirits available for £1, a woman could drink twice the recommended daily amount of alcohol for £3, and a man for £4, it found.

The charity called for bold measures to reduce "harmful" drinking.

The report, titled Counting the Cost: irresponsible alcohol promotions in the night-time economy in Wales, was based on a survey of 43 pubs and clubs in the three Welsh locations on a Friday night in November 2009.

The survey found that 12 venues offered spirits, sometimes in double measures, for £1.

Two-for-one and three-for-one deals were available in a number of venues. Four venues offered pints for as little as £1.

Alcohol was sometimes cheaper than the cheapest available soft drink and only 12% of the premises offered discounts on non-alcoholic drinks.

Andrew Misell, Alcohol Concern' s policy manager, said it was clear that promotions encouraging people to drink more were common in Wales and not restricted to a small minority of premises.

We'd like to see pubs and clubs competing on the basis of their facilities, entertainment and atmosphere, rather than who can offer the cheapest booze
Andrew Misell, Alcohol Concern

"With double measures of spirits available for just £1, a woman could drink more than twice the recommended daily amount of alcohol - the usual definition of a binge - for just £3 and a man could binge for as little as £4," he said.

'Health problems'

"The night-time economy can bring big benefits to our towns and cities, but this must be balanced with the public health implications of cheap alcohol.

"We'd like to see pubs and clubs competing on the basis of their facilities, entertainment and atmosphere, rather than who can offer the cheapest booze."

People who regularly drink above recommended guidelines are at much greater risk of developing long-term health problems, including liver disease and mouth, bowel and breast cancer, said Alcohol Concern.

The charity is calling for further tightening of rules on alcoholic drinks promotions to prevent those that encourage heavy drinking.

To prevent simply shifting the problem from the pub to the home, it said, this needed to be coupled with a 50p per unit minimum price in shops and supermarkets.

The charity said if significant progress could not be made in tackling irresponsible alcohol promotions and setting a minimum price, it would support moves to devolve the necessary powers from Westminster to Wales.

However, Alan Hayes, who is chairman of Wrexham Licensed Victuallers Association and landlord of the Buck Inn at Bangor on Dee, said it was essential that all pubs were not "tarred with the same brush".

He said many village pubs could not compete with the low prices offered in supermarkets and some city centre pubs and that their business could be put at risk.

"They [the government] are getting at us all the time, the pubs, but they never say anything about the supermarkets," he added.

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