These are among the controversial findings of a Norwegian study of late opening times published in the journal Addiction recently.
A team of Nordic researchers analysed 18 different Norwegian cities that had either extended or restricted bar opening times by up to two hours in the period 2000 to 2010. Closing time thus ranged between 1am and 3am.
The findings echo the results of studies around the world, claimed lead researcher Professor Ingeborg Rossow.
The researchers claim that an extension of just one hour resulted in a 16 per cent increase in violent incidents. But if bars were closed one hour earlier, they claimed, a drop in violence of similar proportions resulted.
The researchers therefore argue that restricting the trading hours of bars and clubs is an effective measure in reducing alcohol-related harm.
But here in Ireland, the group’s findings were rejected as being “completely misinformed” by Barry O’Sullivan, Chief Executive of the Irish Nightclubs Industry Association.
“Historically Ireland and other countries have used price and access as blunt tools to try and curb national alcohol consumption levels and hoping that this would in turn reduce alcohol-related harm,” he told Drinks Industry Ireland, “This has resulted in Ireland having one of the highest alcohol taxation regimes in Europe and one of the most restrictive in terms of licensing.
“Alcohol volume being sold in on-trade premises has declined over 25 per cent in the last three years and our national consumption of alcohol has been in decline for a decade. Per adult consumption peaked in 2001 at 14.44 LPA and it is expected to drop to 11.59 LPA in 2011, 19.7 per cent below that peak.
“On-trade premises now account for about 45 per cent of alcohol sales in this country, down from approximately 70 per cent about seven years ago. We are consuming almost 20 per cent less than we did at the peak of 2001. Talk of closing pubs and clubs earlier is not only misinformed but completely misinformed. Closing licensed premises earlier will have one outcome, to drive people back into their homes for socialising. The goal should be the opposite.
“Every Garda, minister, politician and parent would rather see people drinking in a licensed premises than in an unlicensed, uninsured, unmanaged, unsupervised and uncontrolled house party or similar.
“The real question for those trying to control alcohol abuse and alcohol-related harm must be how can we stem the amount of alcohol now being consumed in homes and house parties around Ireland?
“The level of uncontrolled and under-the-radar drinking at home is handcuffed to our economic woes; both are intensifying with the latter fuelling the former. Until policy makers and stakeholders realise the cause and source of these problems, they will continue to fail to stem the resulting problems,” he concluded.