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Cheaper to get drunk than to go to the cinema say UKs young people

Posted 19/11/12

Cheap alcohol encourages young people to drink to get drunk, according to a new report from Balance, the North East Alcohol Office and Alcohol Concern.

The report, ‘Binge – Drinking to get drunk’, has been launched to coincide with the start of Alcohol Awareness Week which runs from 19-25 November with the theme ‘it’s time to talk about drinking’.

One thousand 16-24 year olds were surveyed, including a North East focus group of 16 and 17 year olds. It showed that:

Matrix young people’s service based in the North East worked with young people on the survey. Manager Melanie Soutar said: “The focus group gave us a real insight into young people’s relationships with alcohol. Price clearly plays a key role - it’s cheaper to drink alcohol than go to the cinema.

“Alcohol is now more accessible to young people with reinforced messages that it’s ok to drink to excess. This makes our children vulnerable, increasing the likelihood of them becoming victims of crime, having unprotected sex, and involved in risk taking behaviours which could impact on their education and potentially their future."

In the North East focus group:

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “Although more young people are choosing not to drink alcohol the North East still has the highest rate of under 18s alcohol specific hospital admissions and the highest rate of under 18 in specialist alcohol treatment in England.

“Drinking to get drunk is not the message we want to be sending to young people. More needs to be done to protect children and young people.

“This report demonstrates the need to set minimum unit price at a realistic level, no lower than 50p per unit. This would increase the price of the cheapest, strongest alcohol, such as strong white cider, protecting vulnerable younger and heavier drinkers who are more likely to drink cheap alcohol and suffer the consequences. Research has already shown us that a minimum unit of 50p would reduce consumption per 11-18-year-old drinker by 7.3%.

“Minimum unit price won’t affect the price of a pint in the pub and will only cost a moderate drinker an extra 28p each week. The measure will save lives, reduce hospital admissions and cut crime, as well as protect young people. We believe it’s a small price to pay.”

People can support the campaign by visiting www.balancenortheast.co.uk/our-campaigns/mup/

Tom Smith, Programme Policy Manager at Alcohol Concern added: “This is further proof of the impact cheap alcohol is having on the health and wellbeing of our young people.

“They have told us loud and clear that the way in which alcohol is priced influences the way they drink. We also know that our young people are more likely to have experienced being drunk by the age of 13 than their peers in almost any other European country.”