INDEPENDENT NEWS

Alarmist Statements on Youth Drinking Misleading

Published: Tue 7 Nov 2006 04:14 PM
Alarmist Statements on Youth Drinking Misleading
For immediate release
The Keep-it-18 campaign today pointed to figures from the Alcohol Liquor Advisory Council (ALAC) to show that the claims by promoters of raising the drinking age back to 20 that youth drinking is "out of control" are misleading and don’t focus on the real issues behind New Zealand's drinking problems.
"ALAC’s Youth and Alcohol – 2003 ALAC Youth Drinking Monitor clearly shows that the numbers of non-drinkers are increasing in the 14-17 age group, and the numbers of heavier drinkers are decreasing," said Christopher Bishop, spokesperson for the Keep-it-18 campaign (see figure at the end of the release).
“Simply put, 14-17 year olds are drinking far less now than they were in 2000”, said Mr Bishop. “This shows that ALAC’s message is getting through”. Keep it 18 supports social marketing campaigns to change New Zealanders’ attitudes towards drinking, but not raising the age of alcohol purchase.
"Supporters of raising the age are simply trying to scaremonger MPs and the public into thinking that dropping the drinking age was a failure. But we are slowly seeing a change of culture among youth.” said Mr Bishop.
"Raising the drinking age is not going to work and will simply push the problem of youth drinking back underground."
"In addition, the idea that simply splitting the drinking age so that 18 year olds can buy a drink in a pub but not to take home is silly." Mr Bishop said the widespread perception that under-age drinkers got alcohol from 18 and 19 year olds was incorrect.
The same ALAC report in 2003 stated that most 14-17 year olds (49%) acquired alcohol from their parents. The report also states that 84 percent of current drinkers aged 14 to 17 years said that on their last drinking occasion, a parent or guardian was aware that they were drinking.
Mr Bishop stated that the statistics show that stopping 18 and 19 year old adults from buying alcohol from an off-licence will not stop younger people getting alcohol.
"This knee-jerk bill needs to be thrown out and MPs should instead focus on real solutions to society's drinking problem."
"Changing attitudes, enforcement action and education campaigns are the ways to stop people drinking too much, not banning 18 and 19 year old adults from buying alcohol," Mr Bishop concluded.
* Keep-it-18 is a group of organisations from across the political and social spectrum committed to finding workable solutions to New Zealand’s drinking problem.
ENDS
Source: Youth and Alcohol – 2003 ALAC Youth Drinking Monitor (p.20)
http://www.alac.org.nz/DBTextworks/PDF/YDM2003full.pdf

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