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[Alcohol Action Ireland] Alcohol Action Ireland highly concerned by teenage drinking. (16 May 2019)

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Alcohol Action Ireland today (Thurs 16 May) note the release of the survey data from the Western Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force of 15-16 year olds in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. The extensive lifestyle survey, which was conducted by the Icelandic group Planet Youth, reveals worrying aspects of teenage alcohol use including:

77% of respondents have drunk alcohol in their lifetime.

46% report being drunk in their lifetime.

30% had tried alcohol by 13

26% report being drunk in the last month.

Location of drinking

The survey also gave information on where teens are drinking including:

29% at discos

28% outdoors such as on the street or in parks

27% in the homes of their friends

16.1% in their own home

This report shows a worryingly high level of alcohol consumption among 15/16 year-old students, many of whom are starting to drink at very young ages. In comparison to the results of the nationwide European Schools Project for Alcohol and Drugs Survey in 2015, levels of alcohol consumption are significantly higher in all categories – eg in 2015 34% of the 15-16 years old in Ireland reported being drunk in their lifetime compared with 46% in this most recent survey.

Commenting on the report, Sheila Gilheany, Alcohol Action Ireland, CEO said:

‘This stresses the immediate necessity of the implementation of all measures of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act (PHAA). It has now been over 6 months since it was enacted but key parts of the legislation have not been commenced such as Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP), advertising content restrictions and labelling of alcohol products. In this time at least 600 people have died from alcohol while each year our public health services continue to spend in excess of 12% of its budget on alcohol related illnesses and incidences.

We know that young people are particularly price sensitive so MUP is an essential part of the suite of measures in the Act.

The 2018 Alcohol Action Annual price survey (August 2018) demonstrated that a bottle of gin can  be purchased for as little as €12.49 (Gin). If Minimum Unit Pricing was implemented, the price would be at least €21 so driving a reduction in alcohol consumption.

Likewise, children are being exposed to saturation levels of alcohol marketing, particularly through sports sponsorship. It is notable that in the report students who have a high level of sports participation, are getting drunk regularly.

It is also imperative that there are serious consequences for those who are supplying alcohol to children either from off-licences or in pubs.

Because of extensive lobbying from the drinks industry it took years to bring about the Alcohol Act. We are calling on Minister Simon Harris to immediately commence all of its measures. What possible reason could there be for any further delay?’

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