UK Launches Controversial 24-Hour "Dial-a-Drink" Service

By McCarton Ackerman 07/08/13

A newly-approved alcoholic delivery service has health officials on edge.

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Starting this week, people in parts of North West England can now have their nightcaps delivered straight to their doorsteps. A new 24-hour "dial-a-drink" delivery service has been granted a trading license, despite pushback from district council and public health officials. "Booze Bury" was initially rejected—twice—due to public health concerns, and told that their chances of approval were "slim to none." But Bury Council finally gave them the green light, on the grounds that 24-hour supermarkets are permitted to sell alcohol at all times. Dr. Peter Elton, Director of Public Health at NHS Bury, calls the new business "dangerous" and says it will drive up booze consumption and related health issues. "There is no doubt that increasing access in this way will increase problem drinking and lead to more hospital admissions and eventually to more people dying from alcohol-related disease," he says. "Public health is not against the enjoyment of alcohol in moderation, but making it easier for people to drink to excess both damages themselves and increases the risk of violence in others."

But Booze Bury maintains that they are committed to promoting "responsible" drinking. "We have agreed to a wide range of conditions that promote responsible drinking and driver safety," says a spokesman. "Our website contains a video about responsible drinking and the full list of conditions which customers must stick to in order for us to deliver. We will work with the council and other authorities to ensure this is a worthwhile venture for us and safe for everybody." Drinking contributed to an estimated 1,220,300 hospitalizations in England last year—double the number in 2002-03. And in 2011, World Health Organization categorized the country as one of the booziest in the world.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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