Brewery chief backs happy hour ban

A BREWERY chief has welcomed a ban on happy hour drinks promotions and called for supermarkets to take greater responsibility in alcohol sales to young people.

By Jonathan Barnes

A BREWERY chief has welcomed a ban on happy hour drinks promotions and called for supermarkets to take greater responsibility in alcohol sales to young people.

Simon Loftus, chairman of Suffolk brewing giant Adnams, launched an attack on "grossly offensive" and "irresponsible" alcohol promotions to entice young drinkers.

He was speaking as the Southwold-based company showcased its responsible drinking campaign, Remember, You Can Have Too Much Of A Good Thing.

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Mr Loftus backed the British Beer and Pub Association's ban on happy hours - cut-price promotions that he described as "absurd" - and said that everyone involved in the drinks business had a part to play in tackling binge drinking.

"These happy hour promotions, particularly where they involve mixed spirits and jugs of cocktails for a fiver, are very dangerous as it is so difficult for people to understand how many alcoholic units they are drinking," Mr Loftus said.

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"Clarity of understanding is right at the centre of this issue. Happy hours are a very bad thing and I'm glad that the BBPA is banning them.

"It's absurd to encourage people to buy ridiculous price promotions and over- indulge."

Mr Loftus said he believed many drink manufacturers acted "irresponsibly" by targeting their products at young people.

"You can't think a drink that contains a sweet or a jelly in a tub or drinks produced in a sexually suggestive container are not meant to attract younger drinkers," he said.

"Those things are grossly offensive, they clearly aimed at young people and I have no truck with them. It's completely absurd."

But the brewery boss said he believed supermarkets should take their share of the responsibility for the dangers of binge drinking.

"We still have widespread issues to deal with people drinking more than they should before making mayhem," he said.

"One of the biggest issues is young people often drinking a lot before they go out on the town.

"A big issue is the responsibility of supermarkets to sell alcohol and monitor those who buy it.

"I have seen young people coming out of supermarkets with their arms full of cheap booze and distributing it to their friends in the car park - many of whom are clearly under age. Is it possible for supermarkets to monitor that?

"We're banning happy hours in pubs - but what about cut-price promotions in supermarkets? Is that worse?"

He added: "If we're making these efforts to make sure our house is in order, everybody in this business can take that extra step."

The responsible drinking campaign, which was launched yesterdayat Southwold's Swan Hotel, follows a number of initiatives over the past year, including an educational film and informative "alco-cards".

The company has also undertaken staff training and held discussions with its pub tenants and with police.

"There is a great deal of public concern about all sorts of issues to do with alcohol it seems appropriate for us to widen the scope of what we are doing," said Mr Loftus.

"Everybody in the drinks business needs to recognise that, although great beer and fine wine can vastly enhance civilisations, they can cause problems and we have a responsibility for addressing these issues."

In response to Mr Loftus's comments, a spokeswoman for the British Retail Consortium said: "Retailers take their responsibilities very seriously, and we are always undertaking new initiatives to ensure their obligations are met under the law. We would welcome any moves towards encouraging people to drink more responsibly."

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