Taking the happy’ out of happy hour

Milan gets tough on excess drinking

Editorial Staff
October 8, 2009

Although Italy has no minimum drinking age, authorities recently sounded an alarm following a perceived rise in youth drinking. Over the summer, several northern Italian cities, including Monza and the aperitif-loving business hub of Milan, banned sales of alcohol to youth under 16 years.


Although the art of the aperitivo has a long tradition in Milan, city officials have taken a step further and are now seeking to limit the city's famed ‘happy hour' for adults and youth alike.


The crackdown began with a new ordinance that imposes fines up to 500 euros for those under 16 caught drinking and for those who give or sell them alcohol.


Now, city councilors have launched a citywide campaign warning against alcohol abuse. Health superintendent Gianpaolo Landi di Chiavenna says 4,000 posters will go up near bars and restaurants around the city. ‘In Milan, people drink too early, not only in terms of age but also in terms of the hour...happy hour is a fun thing to do, to socialize, but the bad thing about it is that people start drinking at 7-7:30pm', he said.


Landi is also urging bar owners to do their part by offering, for example, discounts to those who order non-alcoholic drinks during happy hour.


Meanwhile, the bishop's See in Milan is organizing Bible readings as an alternative to Milan's happy hour in an effort to ‘propose more positive alternatives rather than seek to limit negative behaviour.'


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