In an effort to promote sensible drinking and cut levels of public drunkenness, draft government proposals threaten to ban bars from giving free alcohol to women in 186,000 licensed premises in the UK.
Under proposals being considered by ministers, restrictions could be introduced on free drinks and pub "happy hours". Also health warnings similar to warnings on cigarette packets would have to be placed on drink bottles.
But the British Beer and Pub Association immediately condemned the plans saying they would "bury" businesses under red tape. Spokesperson Mark Hastings said, "At a time when the economy and business is under severe pressure it's government's role to support business, not send in a wrecking crew with the ball and chain of further regulation. Government needs to wake up to the fact that five pubs a day are closing in Britain."
The draft rules would also require restaurants to serve wine in glasses with marked measures so that diners are aware of how much they are drinking.
Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians and chairman of the UK Alcohol Health Alliance, said there was no evidence that the industry’s current voluntary code had "stopped bad practice" or discouraged young and heavy drinkers from consuming too much cheap alcohol.
A Department of Health spokesman said "no final decision" had been taken yet on the proposals he confirmed that the Government's initial belief is that the code should be revised with a view to making it mandatory in retail premises that sell alcohol.
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