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UK to Turn Down Music Volume in Pubs to Bring Down Binge-drinking

by Gopalan on November 17, 2008 at 10:23 AM
 UK to Turn Down Music Volume in Pubs to Bring Down Binge-drinking

As binge-drinking is reaching catastrophic levels, the UK government is planning to order drastic reduction in volume levels of music in pubs and bars.

Recent research seemed to show that loud music in pubs made customers buy more alcohol and drink it faster.


Apparently deafening music speeds up drinking patterns by drowning out conversation and arousing the brain.

When sound levels were louder, the average number of drinks ordered by customers rose from 2.6 to 3.4. The time taken to drink a small beer also fell from 14 to 11 minutes, according to the study by France's University of South Brittany.

In the circumstances, a Labour Task force has suggested that landlords be forced to outlaw all entertainment louder than 70 decibels - roughly the same as a hairdryer - to curb alcohol-fuelled violence and anti-social behaviour.

At present, there is no set noise level for licensed premises, the only stipulation being that if pubs want to host live bands, they must make a formal application to the local council.

Other moves being considered are a ban on pub promotions, such as free drinks for women, happy hours and the sale of cocktails with suggestive names such as Sex on the Beach.

The draft code also proposes cigarette-style health warnings about the dangers of alcohol to be displayed in shops, bars and restaurants.

The Labour taskforce also proposes meetings twice a year between licensees and the police. But the industry estimates this would run to 400,000 meetings a year and take up 33,000 police working days.

The measures could either be enshrined in new legislation or used to amend the 2003 Licensing Act.

The annual cost of hospital treatment for alcohol-related problems in the country has now reached 2.7billion and more than 40 per cent of all crime is linked to drink.

Since the extension of drinking hours, the number of youngsters treated for alcohol abuse has soared by 40 per cent.

Predictably pubs are up in arms, on the volume issue in particular. They claim a limit on noise would put an end to televised sports events and comedy nights and leave jukeboxes barely audible.

Mark Hastings, of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: 'There is absolutely no evidence to suggest a link between music and binge-drinking.

'This move is akin to a sledgehammer cracking a nut - the Government already has the power to put whatever conditions it chooses on any individual licence. That would target the problem venues rather than banning music, dancing, comedy and entertainment for everyone.'

Already the music lobby is complaining that stricter licensing laws are making it increasingly difficult for smaller venues to obtain live music licences.

Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said: 'This is a desperate attempt - the Government should concentrate on getting the basics right. Putting police on the street and enforcing the laws already in place would do more to combat alcohol-fuelled disorder.'

Interestingly, though, the Task Force document makes no mention of minimum pricing for drink, despite Government-backed research showing that cheap supermarket deals are linked to binge-drinking.

Last year, The Mail on Sunday revealed that some stores were selling beer more cheaply than water.

The Home Office said: 'This document is a draft and should not be taken as an indication of Government policy. Ministers have yet to take any final decisions.'

Source: Medindia
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