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Reducing harm caused by alcohol

News

We need to do more to protect our children and young people

Today the Scottish Government published the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS) alcohol report 2018 which showed among all groups, the proportion of pupils who have ever had an alcoholic drink has increased since the last survey in 2015. Drinking in the last week is also on the increase in all groups except 15 year old girls. In addition, there has been an increase in the proportion of pupils who had ever been drunk, with the exception of 15 year olds boys.

In response to the survey results Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said,

“After a number of years in which we saw reductions in children and young people’s drinking it is disappointing to see increases in the number of 13 and 15 year olds who report ever having drunk alcohol and the number of those who have been drunk in 2018, compared with 2015.

“The attitudes and behaviours of our young people are a symptom of a wider issue - our children are growing up in an environment saturated with positive messages about alcohol and drinking has become a normal part of our everyday lives. Recent work from  Alcohol Focus Scotland and Children’s Parliament shows that children come into contact with alcohol throughout their day including at home, the community, on the streets, in shops, on public transport, and at sports games and events. 

“We need to do more to protect our children and young people. Drinking in your teens can have a range of adverse health and social consequences including increased risk of injury, violence and suicide as well as potentially affecting brain development.

“From this data it is clear that many children and young people are obtaining their alcohol from the home or from family and friends.  Parents want to do the right thing but often mistakenly think that introducing their children to alcohol will reduce the likelihood they drink too much, but the evidence suggests that children whose parents allow them to drink are four times more likely to be a risky drinker than those whose parents don’t.

“It can be hard for parents to say no given how readily available and heavily marketed alcohol is.  Adults, children and young people alike are living in a world where alcohol is widely available and heavily promoted.  The alcohol industry spends hundreds of millions of pounds every year promoting their products and devising ever more creative marketing tactics to encourage people to drink.  That’s why Alcohol Focus Scotland believes that if we want to protect young people from alcohol harm we need regulation to reduce their exposure to alcohol marketing, and act to limit availability.  We welcome the Scottish Government’s plan to consult on potential restrictions to alcohol marketing in the spring of 2020.”

You can read the Alcohol summary report here and the full alcohol report here .