Local councils could be given powers to crack down on pubs if licensees refuse to run responsible drinks promotions and happy hours.
The national guidance for the new Licensing Act, which is expected to be published in September, will recommend that licensees follow the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) code of practice on drinks promotions.
The best practice guide recommends licensees avoid running promotions that could encourage binge-drinking and lead to violence.
Publicans who do not follow the code could face revocation of their licence by the local authority.
Mark Hastings, spokesman for the BBPA, said: "Anything that directly encourages people to drink to excess is an irresponsible promotion, as is anything that encourages widespread drunkenness.
"It is clear that licensees will only fuel that dangerous cocktail if they continue to run irresponsible promotions. That is why we want all licensees to adhere to our guidelines on responsible promotions."
David Poley, director of policy and good practice at the Portman Group, said: "We think that responsible happy hours are a legitimate way of generating business during quieter times.
"However the larger the discount and the shorter its duration increases the incentive to drink excessively so we urge all licensees to follow the BBPA guidelines."
Luminar Leisure, the company that has been criticised for running all-you-can-drink promotions, says that it believes that it already complies with good practice.
Stephen Thomas, chief executive of the group, said: "In order to make our venues attractive and to maintain the support of our customers, we are able on occasions, to waive or reduce our admission fee, or offer certain drinks below normal tariff.
"The early evening or happy hour promotion is a useful marketing tool providing it is sensibly administered and the offer excludes high ABV products.
"We would continue with such policies following the introduction of the new reform."
The BBPA guide advises licensees to run promotions over a longer period of time than the standard happy hour. It also suggests publicans provide food and soft drinks and discourage drinking games in their pubs.
Licensees who want to review the code can download it from the BBPA website under 'point of sale promotions' at www.beerandpub.com/bppages/newpage/newpage.html
Time to be called on happy hours (28 July 2003)