Saturday 18 November 2017

One-third of parents think it is acceptable for under-16s to drink alcohol in the home

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Ryan Nugent

One in every three parents believes it is acceptable for their children to consume alcohol at home under the age of 16, according to a new report.

The research by drinkaware.ie found that those who begin drinking aged 15 are four times more likely to become alcohol dependant than if they begin from 20 years of age onwards.

The study also revealed that more than half of all parents surveyed believe it is acceptable for children to drink at home under the age of 18.

Recent HSE statistics reported that there were more than five times as many teenage admissions to one of the State's main children's hospitals due to alcohol use last year compared with 2015.

The latest HSBC study found that 51pc of sampled 13 to 17-year-olds in Ireland have tried alcohol, with one-quarter admitting they drank so much that they were really drunk.

Drinkaware, which is funded by the alcohol industry, is launching an awareness campaign for students as the end of Leaving Cert and Junior Cert exams approach.

CEO of drinkaware Niamh Gallagher said that parents needed to sit down with their teens before the end-of-exam celebrations begin.

"Our advice is to take steps to ensure they do so safely and responsibly," she said.

"Parents should talk to their teens about alcohol and discuss their plans for any end-of-exam celebrations.

"At Drinkaware, we are regularly contacted by parents who worry that friends and peers have more influence on when their child will drink, but our research shows that all family members, and in particular parents, are the single strongest influence on their child's opinions about alcohol."

Separately, a new report found alcohol marketing appeared on average "once every minute" during television coverage of the Euros soccer tournament last year. This is despite promises to reduce the exposure of drinks ads during the games.

Researchers at the Institute for Social Marketing, University of Stirling, found more than 100 alcohol marketing references per televised match programme in three countries - Ireland, France and the UK.

It said that most marketing appeared in highly visible places, such as pitch-side advertising during the matches.

This was the case, despite the fact the tournament was held in France, where alcohol TV advertising and sports sponsorship is banned under the 'Loi Évin', said Alcohol Action Ireland.

"The majority took the form of 'alibi' marketing, whereby indirect brand references are used to promote a product, rather than a conventional logo or brand name."

Carlsberg was the most featured brand, accounting for almost all references in each of the three countries, using their slogan 'Probably the best in the world' while avoiding the mentioning of the product name.

Dr Pat Kenny of the Dublin Institute of Technology said: "The data for Ireland showed the frequency of alcohol marketing was high with an average of 123 per broadcast. This equated to an audience exposure to alcohol reference once every 102 seconds during the sports broadcast."

Dr Bobby Smyth, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist and board member of Alcohol Action Ireland, called again for measures to control and restrict alcohol marketing in Ireland.

Irish Independent

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