The British Beer & Pub Association's long-awaited code on promotions is a document that will put an end to genuine licensee doubts over whether they can or can't use promotions any more: they can, as long as they follow these guidelines. And it will also put an end to shameless opportunistic promotions that fly-by-night operators indulge in: because licensing authorities have a clear mandate to use this code and put them out of business. Hurrah!
Most specifically, it is also the end of happy hours as we've known them since way back when. Yes, you can still sell drinks more cheaply over a period of four or so hours but you can't have a short sharp burst, of the kind we're used to. Most happy hours ended happily, but it is because of the few that didn't that many of the new measures enshrined in this code have had to come about. That has been the essence of the whole binge-drinking phenomenon it's the irresponsible few that have brought such troubles upon the trade in the past 18 months.
If the great majority are to win back the good name of the trade, it's vital that all licensees adhere to this new promotional code. Local licensing authorities will be grafting it onto their licensing policies and will be watching like hawks to ensure it's honoured in its totality.
And there are no opt-out clauses either. Stick to it, and there could soon be a dramatic improvement as the bandits become totally isolated and far more identifiable as the source of trouble in their neighbourhood.
There's just one thing that may prevent the code's full effectiveness being implemented. It applies purely to the on-trade: supermarkets and off-licences are not covered. The whole pre-loading system whereby young drinkers tank up before they hit the pubs is still alive and kicking, and nothing is being done to tackle it.
The BBPA has shown the on-trade has the vision and maturity to behave responsibly. Will the only remaining purveyors of cut-price booze also have the maturity to demonstrate similar commitment to tackling this problem?