Monday, October 18, 2004
British Minimum Alcohol Prices, Public and Private...
...or maybe directly public and indirectly public. The direct route to minimum prices for alcohol is being pursued by the City Council in Aberdeen, Scotland. The hope is to make sure that alcohol prices in pubs and clubs are not "too low," as a disincentive to binge drinking. The Aberdeen plan was scheduled to go into effect on Tuesday, but a legal challenge by pub owners will delay (or eventually eliminate) implementation.
Meanwhile, the private introduction of minimum prices comes from the Yates Group, which owns 130 British bars. The minimum prices in Yates's pubs will be £1.25 for a pint of beer, £1 for a bottle of beer, and £1 for "spirits" and "shooters". The pub chain is adopting other measures, too, such as eliminating happy hours. Yates has received some criticism for running a "cover charge for unlimited alcohol at no additional charge" scheme at Cardiff pubs -- hence they might have felt some pressure to adopt a minimum price strategy. Could Yates agree with other alcohol sellers to avoid a price war? Probably not: "The Office of Fair Trading has warned that pubs which agree minimum prices amongst themselves risk breaching competitions laws." A similar issue popped up not long ago in Madison, Wisconsin.
In another "voluntary" move, "Bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale are to carry health warnings similar to those printed on packets of cigarettes."