Pub chain calls time on alcopops as more companies join ban

The bubble may be bursting on alco-pops. The sweet-tasting drinks which prompted public outrage by supposedly luring the young to alcohol were dealt another blow yesterday.

JD Wetherspoon, the fast-expanding chain of 194 pubs, announced it was banning all the drinks which revel in such names as Hooper's Hooch, Shott's Lemon Jag and Zanzibi Sling.

Since their introduction in Britain two years ago, there has been a host of critical stories. Unwitting parents packed the alcoholic drinks in lunch boxes. Stirling University banned them from the campus and even bars at the House of Commons have refused requests to stock them.

The Co-op and Iceland food stores have cleared the controversial beverages from their shelves. And in a mark of the cultural impact, the issue was even raised in a television soap Tinhead, a teenager in Brookside, was made to look a complete fool when he tried to impress the girls at the youth club with a few alcopops.

JD Wetherspoon embarked on a trial ban at its busiest pub, the Hamilton Hall, at Liverpool Street station in London two months ago. After customers proved happy to take an alternative tipple, it extended the ban yesterday.

The bad publicity the drinks have generated has prompted its decision more than any moral crusade. Chairman Tim Martin said: "We simply do not want to be associated with the controversy."

The chain sells 10-15,000 bottles a week. But Mr Martin said: "We have considered the situation carefully. Alcopops have had a lot of bad publicity and many people are concerned that they may be attractive to people too young to drink legally."

The decision was welcomed and condemned in equal measure. Andrew Chevis, of the Portman Group, the drinks' industry-funded watchdog, said the pub chain was missing the point. "We do not believe that for a company like JD Wetherspoon to ban alcopops will have a significant impact on alcohol misuse by young people."

Out of 200 children admitted to the Alder Hey children's hospital in Liverpool last year with drinking problems, only six followed consumption of alcopops. Mr Chevis said a Portman Group report later this month will highlight other drinks causing more problems, although he refused to name them.

Stuart Cain, spokesman for Bass who make Hooper's Hooch, which has 70 per cent of the market, questioned Wetherspoon's motivation in banning a drink which was popular with 20 to 30-year-olds. Around three million bottles and cans are sold each week. "Alcopops sit comfortably alongside beer, cider and shorts. They're not a fad and there's a need to stop demonising them," he said.

Yet Fiona McIntosh, editor of Company magazine for young wo-men in their twenties, said it was not simply under-age drinkers which were cause for concern. Young women were drinking too much and often failed to realise they were.

"Alcopops are quite clubby and fun. It's probably quite difficult to estimate how much you're putting away," she said.

Mark Bennett, of Alcohol Concern, said individual retailers should not be left to make such decisions. There was a need for an independent panel, not the Portman Group, to assess their acceptability. "The test of these drinks is their disproportionate appeal to people under the age of 16."

Alcopops came third behind cider and lager for under-age drinkers. That was considerable success for a new drink. It was also notable because research showed alcopops attracted some young people who admitted they would not otherwise be drinking alcohol at all.

But Mr Bennett said industry sources were muttering already that the appeal of the fizzy drinks was waning. "People approaching their 18th birthday want to be drinking something that is different from what the previous set were drinking. So we see a pattern of new types of alcohol products."

Like bottled beers with lime in the top and ice beers, alcopops will have a successor yet.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam