Sunday, September 30, 2012

HPB works with nightclubs to discourage binge drinking

SINGAPORE: To discourage party-goers from binge drinking, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) plans to work with all major clubs in Singapore and popular nightclub Zirca is the first on board.

In 2010, the National Health Survey showed that one per cent of young Singaporeans, between 18 and 29 years old, drink alcohol regularly.

Of these, 16 per cent are binge drinkers. For men, that's having at least five glasses of wine a night and for women, four.

A final year student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Geraldine Lam, said: "Sometimes after we finish an exam or something, we wanna celebrate, we do out and party. I think in a group, there will always be some people that binge drink and then lose control.

"Because when you're binge drinking you look like you're having a lot of fun, because you're less inhibited, you tend to be friendlier with people, maybe that's why it's seen as a cool activity."

But the HPB warns that binge drinking can lead to long-term health problems such as liver disease, brain damage and stomach ulcers.

HPB is already working with TMS Academy that currently offers bartending courses to include a module on Responsible Hospitality.

At partnering clubs like Zirca, about 50 service staff have already been trained in responsible hospitality.

And the HPB aims to have more joining their ranks.

HPB's CEO Ang Hak Seng said: "Our study has shown that interactions between the bartender with our young adult customers actually will influence how much alcohol they will drink. We're educating the bartender to identify early symptoms of intoxication and for those who are drunk, how to say no in serving them more alcohol, instead, substitute it with non-alcoholic beverages."

Zirca's CEO Bernard Lim said: "Sometimes it's not just about sales, not just about dollars and cents, we want to be mindful of the safety of the people in the club, the well-being of our patrons as well, we don't want to have many drunk people around, we don't want to carry people out of the club."

The trick is to set yourself a limit.

At the launch of the campaign, MediaCorp artistes - Joanne Peh and Pornsak Prajakwit - tried their hands in mixing mocktails.

To reinforce the message of going easy on the drinks, there were reminders in addition to breathalyzers.

Partnering with more clubs in Singapore, the HPB hopes to spread the message among the youths that you can "live it up without drinking up".

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