The latest survey on adolescent health shows that 60% of male 16 year olds students are binge-drinking, with females not far behind. Also, 40% of our secondary students have ridden in a car driven by someone who’s been drinking.
Not good enough, says Alcohol Healthwatch. Director Rebecca Williams calls for action focussed on the environment that has been created for our youth. She says, we lower the drinking age, place little or no control on the number of licensed premises or where they are sited, allow the liquor industry to freely glamorise drinking and let schools, sports clubs and communities become dependent on liquor industry sponsorship. Laws have been liberalised over time and insufficient resources are made available to effectively enforce the laws we do have concerning liquor.
It is any wonder that young people are engaging in harmful drinking patterns and that communities and parents feel helpless to protect them from this?
The survey – ‘New Zealand Youth’, conducted by Adolescent Health Research Group, University of Auckland - shows that it is not a small proportion of young people getting caught in the alcohol harm cycle. Over a third are engaging in harmful drinking patterns.
Government must stop dithering over what actions to take and start actually doing something. Government seems stuck in a cycle of reviewing and stocktaking. There is good evidence available now that identifies strategies that work and there is no excuse for these not to be actively employed. The most effective strategies are ones that restrict supply and affect pricing. It is important that a range of strategies are applied and that adequate enforcement is part of the mix. It is no surprise that these are the strategies the liquor industry fight against.
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