Belfast Telegraph

Not all our teenagers drink like Lindsay Lohan

By Lindy McDowell

You can take a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

You can attract a teenager with a vodka promotion — but can you be blamed for him getting drunk?

That, roughly summed up, is the central issue in the debate about whether bars should be banned from having drinks promotions of the all-you-can-neck variety.

A couple of local bars have been lambasted for offering just that on payment of a tariff ranging from £20 to £25.

On the face of it this seems shocking stuff. Pay 25 quid and drink ’til you drop.

Until, that is, you look at the simple economics of the equation. Visit any local supermarket off-licence during one of their “special promotions” (which are seemingly never-ending) and just see how far your £25 will go.

For that outlay you can at times buy two full bottles of spirits or three multi packs of beer. You could end up with 36 pint sized cans and enough left over for the kebab.

And that’s without working the unit overload you could afford in the cheap cider aisle ...

Attacking the pub owners battling to survive economically in recessionary times is the industry equivalent of shooting the messenger.

The roots of the binge-drinking culture so enthusiastically embraced by youth are a lot more complex than the all-you-can-drink evening at a packed bar where service (and therefore consumption) will be limited anyway. (The bar owner, let’s face it, is trying to turn a profit.)

And, in fairness, we should also remember that, for every Lindsay Lohan sadly hooked on drink, there are dozens of young people who are out not to drink their own body weight in WKD, but just to have a good time.

Binge-drinking though is a real concern and it needs to be tackled.

But a little realism would help. Banning bar promotions won’t magically curtail supply.

Not when the all-you-can-drink specials are freely available elsewhere.

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