Alcohol advertising and promotions

As a licensee or permit-holder, you have an obligation to ensure alcohol is supplied and promoted in ways that minimise harm and preserve peace and good order around your premises. You must maintain a safe environment for patrons and staff of your venue and promote the responsible use of alcohol in your premises.

As a licensee or permit-holder, you are not legally permitted to:

  • engage in practices that may encourage the rapid or excessive intake of alcohol
  • advertise any promotion that is likely to indicate that liquor costs less than is usually charged
  • advertise outside of your premises the
    • sale price of liquor for consumption on your premises
    • availability of free liquor or multiple quantities of liquor on your premises.

If you fail to comply with the responsible promotion of alcohol, you can be subject to monetary and trading penalties under the Liquor Act 1992.

Unacceptable practices and promotions

Under section 142ZZ of the Liquor Act 1992, a licensee or permit holder must not engage in, or allow another person to engage in, an unacceptable practice or promotion in the conduct of business on the licensed premises. The Commissioner for Liquor and Gaming issued Guideline 60: Unacceptable liquor practices and promotions in licensed venues, which provides examples of unacceptable practices and promotions to help licensees and permit holders comply with these requirements.

Under section 142ZZA of the Liquor Act, licensees and permit holders must engage in practices or promotions that encourage the responsible consumption of liquor. For example, this may include:

  • having non-alcohol and low-alcohol beverages available
  • supplying alcohol in standard quantities recognised by patrons.

Liquor advertising

Under section 142ZZC of the Liquor Act, a licensee or permit holder is prohibited from advertising, or allowing anyone to advertise, a range of matters, including free liquor, discounted liquor or the sale price of liquor for consumption on premises (restaurants excepted).

The previous provision meant that licensees or permit holders could not cause the prohibited advertising to occur; however, the new provisions extend to prevent a licensee or permit holder from allowing anyone else to engage in prohibited advertising for the licensee's premises.

Compliance notices

Under section 142ZZD of the Liquor Act, the Commissioner may issue a compliance notice stating that the licensee or permit holder must not engage, or continue to engage, in an unacceptable practice or promotion in contravention of this section or that is contrary to the public interest. The Commissioner may issue a compliance notice about any advertising that contravenes the new section or is contrary to the public interest.

Note: The Commissioner will issue a guideline about practices, promotions or advertisements that may be considered contrary to the public interest. The licensee or permit holder must comply with the compliance notice, otherwise they commit an offence. The maximum penalty is 100 penalty units (monetary value of $16,130).

Responsible alcohol marketing code

The ABAC responsible alcohol marketing code exists to ensure that alcohol is marketed in a responsible way and to adults.

Under the code, marketing and packaging for alcoholic beverages must not:

  • show or encourage excessive or rapid consumption of alcohol, misuse or abuse of alcohol, or consumption inconsistent with the Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council
  • show or encourage irresponsible or offensive alcohol-related behaviour
  • have strong or evident appeal to minors
  • depict people under 25 years old
  • be directed at minors through a breach of ABAC placement rules
  • suggest that the consumption or presence of alcoholic beverages may create or contribute to a significant change in mood, environment or the achievement of success
  • suggest that alcohol shown as part of a celebration was a cause for, or contributed to, success or achievement
  • show the consumption of alcoholic beverages before or during an activity that requires a high degree of alertness or physical coordination for safety reasons (i.e. the control of a motor vehicle, boat or machinery or swimming)
  • challenge or dare people to consume an alcohol beverage
  • encourage the choice of a particular alcoholic beverage, by emphasising its strength (unless the emphasis is on low alcohol strength relative to the typical strength of similar beverages) or the intoxicating effect of alcohol.

Happy hours and drink promotions

Drink promotions and happy hours may contribute to excessive and rapid consumption of alcohol if not adequately controlled. Requirements for conducting drink promotions were introduced in 2006 to ensure these activities are conducted responsibly. You cannot advertise happy hours outside your premises.

Happy hours

A 'happy hour' is any activity traditionally known as a happy hour, whether or not the activity is actually advertised as or called this. For example, a 'publican's shout' or 'afternoon special' is regarded as a happy hour.

It includes any temporary, time-limited discount on a trading day for the relevant part of the premises (e.g. public bar, nightclub).

If you are a licensee within the Brisbane City Council area, you must comply with additional restrictions on happy hours.

The Liquor Act allows happy hours in licensed venues outside of the Brisbane City Council area, but only if:

  • advertising happens only within the advertised premises
  • the advertisement is not visible or audible to a person who is outside the advertised premises.

Promotions with prizes of alcohol

You may host reward promotions that do not encourage excessive consumption of alcohol, or promote intoxication. These include:

  • raffles where the prize is free liquor
  • 'buy one get one free' promotions.

Low-risk promotions are also allowed, such as:

  • 'beer of the month' brand switching to encourage trialling a new product
  • loyalty reward programs conducted over more than 1 trading day.

Theme nights

You are permitted to hold themed events, such as 'student nights', provided that the conduct of the event or occasion does not:

  • encourage rapid or excessive intake of alcohol
  • otherwise promote intoxication.

Free sampling

You are permitted to provide free sampling within your licensed premises.

Reporting irresponsible drinking promotions

If you know of a licensed venue promoting rapid or excessive consumption of liquor, report it to the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation on 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

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