THE region’s pubs have reported mixed experiences with people who hit the bottle before they hit the town, after a recent study found pre-drinking was prevalent among young people.
The study into alcohol-related harm revealed two-thirds of the 3800 young people surveyed drank before going out, and 29 per cent consumed more than five drinks – the internationally recognised limit for risky drinking on a single occasion.
Nick Brown, venue manager of the Wicklow Hotel in Armidale, said pre-drinking was a significant problem, particularly among the hotel’s younger patrons.
He said being in a university town might have amplified the issue.
The problem lay in being unable to monitor how much alcohol a person had consumed, Mr Brown said.
He said some people could have drunk excessive amounts of alcohol before they got out and entered the pub looking fine, but quickly went downhill.
The problem has also grown, in his opinion.
“Absolutely, especially with your Dan Murphy’s and First Choices, who are selling alcohol ridiculously cheap,” Mr Brown said.
According to Australian Hotels Association NSW chief executive officer Paul Nicolaou, venues are tired of turning away people who turn up drunk due to what is sometimes called pre-fuelling or pre-loading.
“We have been saying for some time there is a very real problem with pre-fuelling in our communities and that it needs to be dealt with properly,” Mr Nicolaou said.
Tamworth Hotel licensee and Tamworth and District Liquor Accord chairman Roger Rumble said while pre-drinking was nothing new, it was not something that caused significant problems, but he conceded the trend had amplified in recent years.
“Since the introduction of RTDs (ready-to-drink premixed drinks), there’s been a massive spike in pre-
loading,” Mr Rumble said.
Locomotive Hotel licensee Jeremy Cooper said his establishment didn’t experience problems, but that was likely because of its patrons.
“I just think it’s more the late-night venues, your 18-to-20-year-olds, people with less amounts of money,” he said.