Diageo calls for ‘happy hour’ ban

Diageo is backing a ban on “happy hours” and two-for-one drinks deals in Scottish pubs and bars to be extended to cover all alcohol sales, in the off-trade as well as the on-trade.

But the drinks giant is opposed to a blanket ban on all discounting on multiple purchases, and is asking members of the Scottish Parliament to relax proposals in the Licensing (Scotland) Bill, currently at the committee stage in the Scottish Parliament. If the Bill is adopted, its provisions would become law in 2007.

However, a spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive says that it will resist any changes: “We will stick to our guns on this one.”

The main thrust of the section of the draft bill governing “irresponsible promotions” would mean that any pub or club wanting to cut the price of alcohol will have to do so for a minimum of 48 hours. A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive says: “The objective is to tackle binge drinking by stopping promotions that encourage people to drink large amounts in a very short time.”

Diageo GB government affairs director Tim Rycroft says: “On the whole, we have no problem with the bill – we think it’s a very good measure.” Diageo, he says, supports moves to ban happy hours and deep discounting on multiple purchases. But the company believes price reduction is a valid promotional tool if used responsibly, and wants publicans to be allowed some flexibility.

Scottish anti-alcohol groups are calling for the “irresponsible promotions” regulations to extend to the off-trade. But a spokeswoman for lobby group Alcohol Focus Scotland says it supports a ban on all multiple drinks discounts.

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