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TELL US: Bring Back Happy Hour?

Should happy hour come back to Massachusetts?

Is happy hour coming back to the Bay State?

The 28-year-old “happy hour law” now banning bars and restaurants from pouring free, discounted or two-for-one alcoholic beverages in area restaurants may be updated so restaurants can compete with casinos that may one day be in the state.

As part of the ban, cities and towns now rule that a beverage must be priced the same for each calendar week and two drinks can only be served per person at a restaurant. In addition, pitchers of alcohol can only be served to two or more people, according to the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

The ABCC will hold a hearing in Boston on Aug. 21. Four other hearings will be held throughout the state to gain public feedback. 

According to an article in the Boston Herald, the casino bill passed last year requires the ABCC to complete a study by Jan. 31 of whether the happy hour law should be updated or amended.

The happy hour law was enacted in part to prevent intoxicated people from being over-served and driving under the influence, the Herald article said.

Sean Ward August 15, 2012 at 01:40 PM
I am against any law that punishes the many for the crimes of the few. The law should be repealed but only in conjunction with much stricter drunk driving laws.
David E. Peterson, Esq. August 15, 2012 at 01:46 PM
One would think that there would be enough data on the effect of anti-happy-hour legislation to determine, with statistical significance, whether or not it reduces drunk driving. The ABCC should compare data before and after this law took effect, as well as compare data from other jurisdictions with and without similar laws. The funny thing is, there are plenty of bars in Massachusetts that charge $8 for a beer, and bars that charge $1. So if cheaper beer is your goal, and happy-hour is banned, you can just go to a cheaper bar.
Sandie Bock August 15, 2012 at 01:51 PM
HERE WE GO!! Next we will be told that the Casinos MUST be able to skirt that law or they will go broke! It is starting early but it is starting. WE do not need anymore drunks on the road, period. Happy Hour was fun when people would go in and eat their chicken wings and drink until 7 or 8 when traffic died down and there were not so many cars on the road etc. It was fun but it was dangerous! Some of my colleagues would put down a few cocktails and then wash it down with a beer or two and then leave for home. I lost more than one colleague to these "Happy Hours". I see NO NEED for them except now Suffolk Downs wants them and they have a Lobby that is going to push and push and push and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. By the way, unless there has been a war, Suffolk Downs is not Indian Land so Suffolk Downs is under the same rules as every other bar and business in MA. I say, lets say NO to Happy Hour(no one gets happy, they get drunk). Suffolk Downs is a disasterous place to put a casino in the first place on the only road to/from the airport so if one of these boneheads drinks and crashes they will hold up traffic for hours, lots of missed flights and LOST LIVES. Why would they even consider legislating a change that cannot only HURT??? Money would be the answer that comes to my mind!!!! Give it a rest!
gene August 15, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Why do happy hours work in other states, with no appreciable rise in OUI, but can't work here?
Richard Hudak August 15, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Craig Reinarman has shown that it's not the severity, but certainty of punishment that acts as a deterrent in drinking driving. What we need are more efficient court systems.
Richard Hudak August 15, 2012 at 02:10 PM
I agree we need to be empirical about this, but can't see that happening when tainted by the dark money of casino politics.
Mary G August 15, 2012 at 02:58 PM
All bartenders today are TIPS certified, and if they over-serve someone they're held responsible. This didn't exist 28 years ago. Bars are held to a higher standard to prevent drunk driving now. All that repealing this law will do is allow bars and restaurants to change their pricing more frequently. It will increase the amount consumed by bringing more customers into these establishments, not by over-serving. Drunk driving all about being served too much, not how much you paid for the drinks. It's not a rational decision, if you actually looked at the risk and cost of that extra drink it would never make sense to drive drunk, period. People who do it aren't thinking about the risk, and they aren't concerned with the price of the drink or what a great deal it is. They are going to do it anyway. Repealing this law is good for the majority of drinkers who enjoy responsibly, and good for bars and restaurants to increase their business when it's slow. Repealing the ban on happy hour has a lot of positives and many of the negatives that we're concerned about have been addressed by TIPS and other programs. This decision needs to be made by looking at data, the benefits and risks, and seriously thinking about it in terms of 2012 and where we are now. It should not be an emotional decision, punishing the many for the actions of a few.
Bill Bowler August 15, 2012 at 03:16 PM
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3724165
Dawn Cerbone August 15, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Bring back Happy Hour!!!!
Sean Ward August 15, 2012 at 06:28 PM
I agree. What I was trying to say is that we can't keep letting repeat offenders keep getting behind the wheel. First offense suspension fine and some jail. Second offense permanent loss of license big fine and more jail time. Third offense which would clearly involve also driving without license is life in jail. Kill someone life in jail.
Sean Ward August 15, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Sandie, you frighten me a little. I for one don't buy more drinks when they are cheaper. I still would only have a glass or two. What I don't need is you deciding how much they will cost.
John Gault August 15, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Sandie, Your comment intrugues me. I'd like to break it down as best I can: It appears that Casinos are behind the Happy Hour action, and no one else. Eating chicken Wings and drinking until 8 was fun, but dangerous. You had two or more colleagues drink a few cocktails and 1 or two beers, I assume before 8. Something happened to them. While it was fun before (chicken wings and all), there is now NO NEED for happy hours. If you get drunk, you cannot be happy. Suffolks Down is a bad place for a casino (because of Happy Hour?), and there could be accidents (because of Happy Hour?) and hold up traffic, missed flights, and dead people. Money is the only reason behind Happy Hour.
joseph mcgruff August 15, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Okay so you could have a Happy Week but not a Happy Hour? That makes sense...
Richard Hudak August 15, 2012 at 07:15 PM
The study is of Ontario, Canada, and not generalizable to the US.
john August 15, 2012 at 07:16 PM
How about a happy hour that focuses on free food rather than alcohol? I never heard of people getting bagged for eating too much. I am not talking about giving away steak and lobster but half price appitizers might work. In fact, there is no law that could possibly stop that and people would still drink what they want.
Richard Hudak August 15, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Still, offenders make a cost-benefit analysis of the likelihood of being caught and punished. It works better to make it more likely they will be caught than to stiffen the penalty. It's a harder thing to make it more likely they will be caught than to stiffen penalties. Stiffer penalties also make some people "feel" like "something is being done."
Richard Hudak August 15, 2012 at 07:20 PM
If drinking drivers are making cost benefit analyses, why lower the cost?
Bill Bowler August 15, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Why? Do you have empirical data that drinking patterns are different in Canada than the US? When you come up with better data, you can criticize the study.
mhder August 15, 2012 at 08:54 PM
They have those in Boston & Cambridge. Grendal's Den in Harvard Square serves their menu 50% off 5-730 and again 9-1130. It's a pretty smart move.
Richard Hudak August 15, 2012 at 09:02 PM
It's one study, of one province, in another country. One study does not a pattern make. Why is the burden of proof on me to come up with a raft of data? Moreover, it's not the study I'm criticizing. It's the suggestion that one study is generalizable. Science does not work like Google.
Richard Hudak August 15, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Smart, R. G. (1996, Summer). The happy hour experiment in North America. Contemporary Drug Problems, 23(2), 291-300. Abstract: "Happy hours" in bars or restaurants--marking down the price of drinks at specific times--have been banned in 18 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. A study of a 1984 Ontario ban on happy hours found no effect on total consumption. More research is needed, since an earlier experimental and observational study did find marked effects on heavy drinkers.
Richard Hudak August 15, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Xu, Xin; Chaloupka, Frank J, PhD. (2011). The Effects of Price on Alcohol Use and Its Consequences. Alcohol Research and Health 34. 2 (2011): 236-45 Abstract: Over the past three decades, economists and others have devoted considerable effort to assessing the impact of alcoholic-beverage taxes and prices on alcohol consumption and its related adverse consequences. Federal and State excise taxes have increased only rarely and, when adjusted for inflation, have declined significantly over the years, as have overall prices for alcoholic beverages. Yet studies examining the effects of increases of monetary prices (e.g., through raising taxes) on alcohol consumption and a wide range of related behavioral and health problems have demonstrated that price increases for alcoholic beverages lead to reduced alcohol consumption, both in the general population and in certain highrisk populations, such as heavier drinkers or adolescents and young adults. These effects seem to be more pronounced in the long run than in the short run. Likewise, price increases can help reduce the risk for adverse consequences of alcohol consumption and abuse, including drinking and driving, alcohol-involved crimes, liver cirrhosis and other alcohol-related mortality, risky sexual behavior and its consequences, and poor school performance among youth. All of these findings indicate that increases in alcoholic-beverage taxes could be a highly effective option for reducing alcohol abuse and its consequences.
Dan D. August 15, 2012 at 09:29 PM
The smug ones always come up with a "you should do this instead" (food specials for instance). It is off the point. It's about happy hour freedom!
john August 15, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Tell me,what exactly does smug mean? I thought it was about being happy.If you need to drink to be happy go under the overpass.There is no cover,except the road.
Richard Hudak August 15, 2012 at 09:48 PM
One is already "free" to drink all one wants. We're haggling over price. Alcohol is already regulated. Since lower price is associated with increasing social ills, then it is within the public's purview not to decrease the price further. It's in the public interest. I think it is a positive suggestion to decrease the price of food to attract customers and increase the conviviality of gatherings. Moreover, it is better to have people drinking with food. What I find unhelpful are ad hominem arguments.
William Legault August 15, 2012 at 09:49 PM
TIPS (or AIM as it is now called) is a crock of horse manure.
Lexi August 15, 2012 at 10:27 PM
apparently John you have not been reading about our democratic leaders such as mumbles Mennino, Michelle Obama, and mayor Bloomberg telling us what we cannot eat or drink because they in their infinite wisdom feel they can tell us what we should and should not eat because we are too stupid to figure it out you know.
john August 15, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Thats why you go around the law and serve all the drinks and food you want.
Richard Hudak August 16, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Bloomberg is an Independent, and was a Republican after being a Democrat. Michelle Obama is not a policy-maker. No one is telling us what to eat or drink here. The executive branches of cities and towns, our elected officials, are enforcing the capacity to regulate alcohol by preventing it being sold at a discount. You can still buy it.
Matthew Duggan August 16, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Bring back the Sad Hour . . . all drinks are $10

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