Pub chain calls time on alcopops as more companies join ban
Tuesday 05 August 1997
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.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...
£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...
£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...
£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...