Council launches campaign to stop sale of extra-strong lager


Pic: WordShore (Flickr)

A campaign called ‘Reduce the Strength’ was launched this week in an attempt to reduce anti-social behaviour and crime in Whitechapel and Brick Lane caused by increased alcohol consumption.

The campaign, which is a collective initiative by Tower Hamlets Council, the Metropolitan Police and Thames Reach will result in off-license stores in Brick Lane and Whitechapel being asked to remove ‘super strength’ lager from their shelves, which includes all ciders with an alcohol level higher than 6,5%.

The Council believe that super strength lagers are are known to cause serious health complaints and are highly linked to anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related crime.

A single 500ml can of 9% lager for instance, contains four and half units of alcohol, exceeding the government’s recommended daily amount for both men and women.

43% of people who drink in Tower Hamlets have harmful or hazardous drinking patterns according to research in the Tower Hamlets Substance Misuse Strategy for 2012-2015, .

“There are clear links between problem drinking of super strength lager/cider and anti-social behaviour” said Poppy Turner, the Council’s Communication Advisor.
She explained how the main issues are cost per unit and availability: ‘’A single 500ml can of 9% lager/cider contains more units of alcohol than the NHS recommends a man drinks in a day. Some of these brands are readily available at under £1 and recently as cheaply as 59p.’’

According to Sarah McLaughlin, Tower Hamlets Communications Advisor, the campaign has so far had the full support of local businesses and residents.

Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, who believes the borough is one of the most vibrant and diverse London communities said:  said: “[Tower Hamlets] is visited every day by Londoners and tourists alike looking to experience its shopping, eating and nightlife.Unfortunately this experience is sometimes blighted by the troubling presence of street drinkers and people begging for money to spend on drugs and alcohol.”

Councilor Ohid Ahmed, Deputy Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “This campaign highlights the dangers of super strength lagers, and encourages retailers to sign up to a voluntary agreement that they will not sell these products.”

The Council are adamant that the strategy has not been created to prohibit the consumption of alcohol, but seeks to encourage and promote a culture of responsible drinking coupled with responsible management of licensed premises.

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