Underage booze fests under scrutiny

Clubs encourage youngsters to drink in direct violation of the law

After Politiken newspaper exposed that nightclubs nationwide are using Facebook to invite underage kids to so-called ’16+ parties’, politicians are promising to "tighten the screws" on clubs carrying out the illegal practice.

It is against the law for bars and nightclubs to serve alcohol to patrons under 18, and it violates the Marketing Act to promote drinking to teens under 18. But in just three months, the association Alkohol og Samfund (alcohol and society) found 30 examples of 16+ parities< being hyped on Facebook.

“We are appalled at what is happening and we are surprised by the scale,” Johan Jensen, the head of Alkohol og Samfund, told Politiken newspaper, adding that he has never seen such large scale marketing aimed at young teens.

READ MORE: Children trained to binge drink

Free shots for teens
The Maybe Not Bob nightclub on Funen had an ad on its Facebook page luring young people to come and drink.

“Bob’s first anniversary! Admission 1 kr! Shots free for the first hour!! See you for a wild Saturday on North Funen!”

And that runs afoul of the country's alcohol laws. 

“It is forbidden to sell hard alcohol to anyone under 18, but these advertisements signal to the 16-year-old that they can buy alcohol,” Kit Broholm, a senior consultant at the government's health department Sundhedsstyrelsen, told Politiken.

“Once they are inside, it is hard to tell who is 16, and the earlier you start drinking, the higher risk of alcohol related problems later in life.”

READ MORE: The party never stops

The club's manager, Thomas Nanboe, said that serving youngsters did not happen on his watch.

"It must have been a night I when was not on duty,” he told Politiken. “I’ll have to take a look at it.”

The fact that Maybe Not Bob was engaging in illegal marketing activity also apparently came as a surprise to Nanboe.

“Then everyone is in violation,” he said. “It is standard in the industry.”

Tougher penalties
Özlem Cekic, the health spokesperson for government coalition partner Socialistisk Folkeparti, said that discos and clubs that serve minors should lose their licences.

“We need to send a very strong signal to the industry that it is unacceptable to sell alcohol to those under 18,” Cekic told Ekstra Bladet. “Underage drinking has large social and health consequences.”

READ MORE: Proposed fines would send “clear signal” against underage drinking

Cekic said it was “remarkable” that not one single fine for serving underage drinkers was handed out in all of 2013.

“I am not sure how that is possible when so many were blatantly breaking the law,” said Cekic. “If it continues, we need to tighten the screws.”

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