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New licensing rules to end drink promotions

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010 New licensing rules to end drink promotions

New licensing rules are to be introduced later in the year in the hope of tackling the “binge drinking culture” in clubs and pubs across England and Wales.

Ministers are expected to announce that there will be a ban on drinking games and there will be compulsory identification checks on anyone who looks under the age of 18.

However, a there will not be a ban on bull discounting of alcohol in supermarkets after the police received complaints that some shops were selling alcohol cheaper than water.

So far the government have refused to introduce a minimum price on alcohol in England and Wales even thought they admitted that there were issues “around rock-bottom cheap alcohol”. Ministers say that such a move would be penalising responsible drinkers.

As the general election looms, there is a clear political auction developing after the Tories outlines their own proposals to ban below cost-price sales.

Under the rules of the new code pubs and clubs who breach the new regulations will face losing their licences, fines up to £20,000 and up to six months in prison.

The new conditions of the code include:

• A ban on “irresponsible” drink promotions.
• Check the identification of anyone who looks under the age of 18.
• Ensure that free tap water is available.
• Ensure that pubs and clubs make clear a choice between single and double measures of spirits and a small and large glass of wine.

The new set of rules will be introduced later in the year in two stages. The first stage, which will be introduced on the 6th April, will ban promotions on alcohol and drinking games and the provision of free tap water. The second stage, in effect from 1st October, will cover smaller measures and age checks.

Home secretary Alan Johnson blamed a minority of retailers for continuing to run irresponsible promotions.

He said: “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 industry have a duty to act, this mandatory code will allow us to take action against an issue which affects us all,”

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