Bottomless Prosecco making binge drinking 'acceptable'

By Helen Gilbert

- Last updated on GMT

Bubble burst: bottomless Prosecco blamed for increased binge drinking
Bubble burst: bottomless Prosecco blamed for increased binge drinking

Related tags: Drinking culture, Alcoholic beverage, Beer

Campaigners concerned that bottomless Prosecco brunches are making binge drinking acceptable among middle-class women should turn their attention to the off-trade, the ALMR has declared.

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) chief executive Kate Nicholls made the recommendation after alcohol charity Balance suggested such promotions fuelled consumption among this women.

“These types of unlimited Prosecco promotions are actively encouraging binge drinking where people consume high amounts of alcohol over a short period of time,” Colin Shevills, director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, warned.

“Their growing social acceptability is concerning. We’re seeing a phenomenon mainly targeted at women with a rise in Prosecco as the female drink of choice."

'Real harm of drinking'

Shevills continued: "But what these bottomless promotions aren’t mentioning are the very real harms of drinking, which is particularly worrying when we’re seeing increases in alcohol consumption among the female population.”

Nicholls insisted the on-trade works hard to promote healthier attitudes to alcohol consumption and pointed out Prosecco had been one of the on-trade’s key resources in its pledge to reduce unit consumption through the Public Health Responsibility Deal.

“The move from customers towards Prosecco, which is lower in strength than many wines and sold only in 125ml servings, has helped cut consumption of 1bn units of alcohol,” she said.

“Any campaigners who are worried about drinks promotions would be better advised to look towards the off-trade where alcohol can be bought at a much lower cost for unsupervised consumption.”

Nicholls added licensees should be aware that any offer of an unlimited or unspecified quantity of alcohol for a discounted or fixed fee would fall foul of the mandatory requirements but said the ALMR had not “seen any evidence of this type of promotion occurring on a widespread scale".

'Entitled to run promotions'

A spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association said: “Venues are entitled to run promotions to attract customers to their venues, but those that encourage irresponsible drinking are quite rightly not permitted, under the Government’s mandatory code.

"Any venue thinking of running a promotion of this sort should think carefully, but, of course, most operators will make that judgment in a very responsible way. Customers too, should drink responsibly.”

Poppleston Allen partner Andy Grimsey said: “Under alcohol licensing law, these types of drinks promotions are addressed by the mandatory licensing conditions order of October 2014, and whether there is a breach will depend upon a number of factors.

"If the promotions are being run irresponsibly with a significant risk of undermining a licensing objective then they could be unlawful, but the provision of food, time-limiting the promotion and reserving the right to stop service are some of the measures that can be taken to ensure the promotion is lawful.”

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