Adulterated laws

The common practice of Greek nightclubs spiking their drinks with lower-quality alcohol is not a new problem and certainly not a minor one. It is highly unlikely that there is any other action in which people professionally put other people’s lives at risk in a clear bid to increase profits. Nightclub owners and the protection rings with which they collaborate – not always voluntarily – write off the cost of a single bottle by serving a couple of drinks. Yet it seems they are still not satisfied. For each drink they sell at retail price, they want to be able to buy up to five bottles of liquor – adulterated liquor, that is. Bar owners are little concerned that the spiked drinks can contain a lethal punch for consumers. This unacceptable unscrupulousness, which does not suit the image of a Western state, is not a new problem. It has plagued Greece’s nightlife for decades. Yet no adequate measures have been taken to curb the practice. Tests conducted by the state’s chemical laboratory and the Finance Ministry’s Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) confirmed that in Greece’s nightlife spiking drinks rules. Government tests indicated that 100 percent of rum and tequila served at inspected nightspots in the greater Athens area was adulterated. Half the vodka samples also turned out to be adulterated, while 20 percent of whisky samples had been tampered with. Evidence points to an entire industry, based on a considerable network of labs, that is producing a large quantity of adulterated alcohol. And this productive infrastructure seems to operate without any particular hindrance. This vulgar practice is spreading further, posing a public health hazard and marring Greece’s image as a tourism destination. Critics commonly point a finger at insufficient state legislation. Sanctions are not hefty enough, some officials say. But why does the government then not change the legislation? No responsible official can explain their inaction by claiming they were not familiar with the problem. One cannot help but assume that the ring that produces and sells adulterated spirits is strong enough to influence state officials and inspectors – we have seen it before in the operation of protection rings that hijack Athens’s nightlife. Both the practice of spiking spirits at Greece’s nightclubs and the presence of shady bouncers at their entrances require police tolerance or, worse, cooperation. As the tests showed, spiking drinks is a way of tax evasion, and of disregard for the customer. But above all, it is a health hazard. Inspections must intensify. Wrongdoers must be deprived of their licenses. The government must put a stop to the seedy practices at Greece’s nightclubs.

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