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Reduce alcohol unit signage, urge pubs

Published:  23 July, 2008

The Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations and the British Beer and Pub Association have called on the government, police and councils to reduce the number of signs publicans have to display.

They have vowed to fight proposals that will enforce them to display details of alcoholic units on beers, wines, spirits and alcopops on posters and on winelists. The government hopes the current voluntary agreement will be extended to cover all drinks sold in shops and off-licences by the end of 2008.

This comes as landlords brace themselves for an increase in the number of no smoking signs they need to display as well as council enforcement patrols that will spot-check for pubs infringing the legislation once it comes into force on Sunday.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the head of science and ethics at the British Medical Association, said the voluntary agreement between the government and the drinks industry on alcohol units did not go far enough.

She said the issue was not bottles of wine or cans of beer, which had alcohol units printed on their labels, but glasses of wine or beer, which could be of varying units depending on the size of the glass or alcohol strength of the product.

The government recommends men do not exceed three or four units a day and women do not exceed two or three units. One unit is equivalent to a small glass of wine (125ml), half a pint of beer (284ml) or one pub measure of spirits (25ml).

However wine glass sizes in restaurants have increased, with many serving 175ml or 250ml servings. The strength of wines and lagers has also increased.

Mark Hastings, of the British Beer and Pub Association said the alcohol content of beers and spirits sold in licensed premises was displayed on the pumps from which they were served. He said posters would not improve people's understanding of alcohol units.