The OLCC has proposed a final draft of its new rules regarding the advertising and promotion of happy hour in Oregon. The rule making hearing regarding the proposed rules is scheduled for Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 10:00 am in Room 103A at the Commission offices, but the record will remain open for written comments until February 23, 2010. You can contact Jennifer Huntsman at (503) 872-5004 or Jennifer.Huntsman@state.or.us with questions or comments.

The proposed rules lift the long-standing prohibition regarding the advertisement of “happy hours” or other similar terms outside of the establishment. The rules would allow references to happy hour and a description of when it is offered provided that there is no reference to the price of or discount to happy hour drinks. For example, Catalon could advertise a happy hour seven days a week from 4:00-6:00, but could not advertise a happy hour sever days a week from 4:00-6:00 featuring half price beer and wine. These rules would be applicable to information available on the establishment’s website and answering machines. Of course, a full description of the happy hour specials is still allowed inside the establishment. The new rules expressly prohibit any advertising of drinks that requires or implies that a guest must purchase more than one drink to obtain the discount, such as “two for the price of one.”

These changes are motivated in part by the Commission’s desire to strike a balance between meeting public safety concerns and providing licensed businesses with the flexibility to operate and compete. The internet is full of drink advertising by non-licensees that are not subject to the OLCC’s jurisdiction. This levels the playing field and allows licensees to take greater control over the promotion of their own happy hours, but protects the public from advertising that competes solely on the basis of cheap drink prices.

For more information, see http://www.oregon.gov/OLCC/happy_hour_rulemaking.shtml.