Binge drinking guide 'will hurt local business'

NEW drinking guidelines that describe four standard drinks as 'binge drinking' will hurt local businesses, Lismore Workers Club manager Phil Kelly has warned.

The new guidelines, which are expected to be released next month, have been the subject of intense debate since they were announced by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

The guidelines will recommend that both men and women should not consume more than two standard drinks per day – the equivalent of three glasses of wine or four middies of beer.

The head of the council's alcohol guidelines group, Jon Currie, said the old limit of four drinks for men would become the new 'upper limit'.

Phil Kelly, a manager at the Lismore Workers Club and representative on the Lismore Liquor Accord committee, criticised the recommendations. “I think it's the do-gooders trying to do good, but in actual fact they will be doing a lot of harm,” he said.

“It's going to affect a lot of people. A lot of businesses will struggle because of these changes.”

Mr Kelly said the current liquor laws relating to the responsible service of alcohol were 'pretty tough' and most venues were doing the right thing.

The manager and owner of Miss Lizzies restaurant at the Richmond Hotel in Lismore, Carol Quilkey, said the guidelines should focus on the way people drink, rather than setting a benchmark for binge drinking.

“The government wants to control every part of our lives and now they want to determine how we enjoy ourselves. I think we have to be careful about government departments before we just accept their standards,” she said.

However, the local GPs group cautiously endorsed the recommendations.

“We welcome any effort to tackle the problem of excessive drinking in our society. The health ramifications of excessive alcohol consumption are widely acknowledged and any move in the direction of looking more closely at this problem is a positive step,” GP network chief executive Chris Clark said.

“It's important to note that at this stage the new guidelines for low-risk drinking are only in the draft stage and are open to public consultation.”

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