Find us on Facebook

alcohol health alliance uk

More needs to be done to protect young people from alcohol harms

Posted 24/07/14

Latest figures have shown that two fifths of secondary school pupils had drunk alcohol at least once and more than half of pupils thought it was OK for someone of their age to try drinking alcohol.

The figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre’s report ‘Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England’, which contains results from an annual survey of secondary school pupils in England in years 7 to 11 (mostly aged 11 to 15), revealed that:

Sue Taylor, Partnerships Manager at Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, said: “Although the number of young people choosing not to drink is increasing, there are still too many young people drinking too much.

“Whilst we welcome a decrease in the number of young people who have tried alcohol we still continue to see the impact drinking has on the wellbeing of children here in the region. In the North East we continue to have the highest rate of under 18 alcohol-specific hospital admissions and the highest rate of under 18s in alcohol treatment – clearly more needs to be done.”

The most recent regional data showed that of all the regions the North East has the highest proportion of 11 to 15 year olds who claim to have ever drunk alcohol at 51%, the highest proportion who drank alcohol in the last week at 17%, and the highest mean consumption at 15.2 units.

Sue continued: “Many children are making better choices, despite being bombarded with pro-alcohol messages. However, alcohol continues to be sold at pocket money prices, with strong white cider on supermarket shelves for as little as 16p per unit. Young people also continue to be bombarded with alcohol marketing. With the industry spending in the region of £800m a year on marketing it’s no surprise that many youngsters now recognise alcohol brands more than leading biscuit brands.

“Alcohol is also more available than ever before. It can be purchased 24/7, in soft play areas, florists and round the clock in petrol stations. It is sending the message to our children that alcohol should be central to every part of our lives.

“Clearly the alcohol strategy in its current form is not working and we need Government to implement effective evidence-based measures. This includes a minimum unit price which is targeted to increase the price of the most harmful alcohol, such as strong white cider. This will protect vulnerable younger and heavier drinkers who are more likely to drink cheap alcohol, and suffer the consequences, by pricing it out of their hands. Only then will we truly be able to tackle alcohol harms.”

Other figures showed that: