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No more happy hours?

WHO ask pubs and restaurants to ban happy hours to discourage underage drinking.

entertainment Updated: May 28, 2010 01:11 IST
Himadree

If the World Health Organisation (WHO) has its way, happy hours may well be a thing of the past. In an attempt to discourage underage drinking, WHO has proposed to end all schemes such as happy hours, flat rates and promotional discounts, meant to attract youngsters to pubs.

While it has found support in Australia, China, Germany, South Africa and US, India may soon witness a similar ban, according to Community Against Drunken Driving (CADD). “We’re working on a similar policy and have spoken to government and health officials. It can only be effective if the authorities reform liquor policies across the industry,” says Prince Singhal of CADD.

“I support the WHO ban. It’s the responsibility of the restaurant owners and the government to impose corrective measure,” said Dr Gorav Gupta of Tulasi Rehabilitation Centre.

Incidentally, a recent survey published by CADD shows 80 per cent of the people at Delhi’s watering holes are below 25 (the legal drinking age). A 2009 survey by People for Transparency, a Punjab-based civil action group, showed that Delhi youth drink 162.8 million bottles of alcohol in a year.

Despite such figures, restaurant owners and youngsters aren’t sure if doing away with discounts is the best option. “A ban won’t stop the youth from drinking! Instead, you should start counseling sessions in the school,” says Natasha Chaudhri, of Emperor’s Kitchen. “If youngsters can’t get alcohol at affordable rates, they’ll be sly about it and start binge drinking,” says Gagan Kapur of Buzz.

“All my friends meet thrice a week in New Friends Colony, where the pubs offer drinks for just Rs 45 during happy hours. That’s the only thing we can afford,” says Rishabh Garg, 19, a student. “Ban them! Happy hours are just a way to net gullible youngsters,” says Neeti Sinha, 23, a BPO employee.