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Tell us what you think about alcohol sales and promotion

13 May 2009

Our new consultation looks at how to challenge irresponsible sellers.

The consultation - Safe. Sensible. Social. Selling alcohol responsibly - asks for your input on our proposals to reduce alcohol-related crime and lower the costs of alcohol-related health problems.  

Key proposals

The proposals include:

  • a mandatory code of practice for pubs, clubs and supermarkets
  • banning promotions such as 'all you can drink for £10', speed drinking competitions and 'dentist’s chairs' - where alcohol is dispensed directly into the mouths of customers
  • making sure bars, pubs and clubs offer single measures as well as doubles for spirits, and small as well as large glasses of wine

We are also suggesting that alcohol retailers display information about the alcohol unit content of drinks, and supermarkets and convenience stores display information on the health impacts of alcohol.

New mandatory conditions for retailers

The consultation suggests a small number of mandatory conditions for alcohol retailers, as well as new powers for local authorities to help them deal with problem sellers.

Those who fail to comply with the new rules will face a range of consequences.

These can include:

  • losing their licences
  • facing additional tough conditions
  • £20,000 fine and up to six months imprisonment

Secondary conditions target problem areas

Additional conditions are being proposed to deal with ‘hotspots’, where two or more sellers in one area are clearly associated with alcohol-related crime and disorder.

These conditions will give local councils more power to take actions including:

  • restricting happy hours or pub crawl promotions
  • banning irresponsible bulk buy promotions 
  • enforcing the Challenge 21 policy - where anyone who looks under 21 must produce proof of age to buy alcohol 
  • banning glass containers altogether, or ensuring that glasses are collected
  • making door staff check for weapons and drugs during times when alcohol-related crime is most likely to occur

‘Not about penalising the majority’

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said the proposed new rules were not designed to stop the ‘vast majority of people who enjoy a drink responsibly from doing so.’

Instead it would crack down on the minority of businesses whose irresponsible promotions fuel the excessive drinking that can result in crime and violence.

She said, ‘Alcohol-related crime and disorder costs the UK billions every year in police and hospital resources, not to mention the effect it has on the lives of the millions of decent people who want to enjoy a night out’

‘It is not about penalising the majority who trade responsibly. but the government has a duty to tackle this issue which affects us all.’

No minimum unit price

We have decided not introduce a minimum unit price, as it would unfairly punish the sensible majority of responsible drinkers. However the consultation commits to conducting further research into the issue.

What do you think?

We'd like to know what you think about these issues.

Please take a few minutes to download and read the consultation, and if the issues involved are important to you, reply to some of the questions it asks.

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