Youth Council: Substance Misuse report welcome, now is time to act and prioritise young people’s lives over industry profits
The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) welcomed the report of the National Substance Misuse Strategy Steering Group launched today, but emphasised the need to act on its recommendations.
“The practical, evidence-based measures outlined in this report present a great opportunity for Ireland to reduce alcohol misuse and to address alcohol related harm in particular among children and young people,” said James Doorley, Assistant Director of NYCI speaking at the launch.
“We know that there will be resistance from the drinks industry to any measures which will reduce their sales and profits, however, now is time for the Government to put the public health and well-being of children and young people ahead of any private or corporate interests” continued Mr Doorley.
“The problem here is not young people, but the environment we have created where alcohol is cheap, easily available and heavily promoted: with alcohol readily available in almost every corner store and cheaper than bottled water, it is hardly surprising that children and young people in Ireland under 18 have among the highest levels of alcohol consumption and risky drinking in western Europe.”
“We support the recommendations in this report in relation to the issues around the price, availability and advertising of alcohol in particular. In relation to the introduction of a minimum unit price per gram of alcohol: all the independent evidence clearly demonstrates that the children and young people under 18 are price sensitive and that cheap drinks are particularly associated with binge drinking and heavy drinking. While in relation to availability, the reality is that we have a vastly greater number of outlets selling alcohol than before, making it much easier for young people under 18 to access greater quantities of alcohol and more frequently.”
“This report lays out a number of practical actions which the evidence shows can be taken to address these, and other related issues, resulting in a measureable reduction in alcohol related harm and deaths among young people.”
“We cannot afford to wait any longer: the sooner we act, the more young people we can save from unnecessary alcohol related harm, the more families we can protect from unnecessary disintegration, and the greater the benefit to our economy and society as a whole,” concluded Mr Doorley.
For further information, please contact Daniel Meister, Communications Officer at NYCI on 087 781 4903 or 01 425 5955 or email email@example.com
Notes to Editors:
National Youth Council of Ireland
The National Youth Council of Ireland is a membership-led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests of voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people.
We support the recommendations in this report in relation to the introduction of a minimum unit price per gram of alcohol because all the independent evidence clearly demonstrates that the children and young people under 18 are price sensitive and that cheap drinks are particularly associated with binge drinking and heavy drinking.
This measure will address the cost of the cheapest drinks on sale in supermarkets, off-licences and petrol stations which is the most attractive for young people increases and if implemented will ensure that they consume less and the level of alcohol related harm will decrease.
The other issue which is addressed in the report is the availability of alcohol. As noted the number of outlets selling alcohol increased by 161% between 1998 and 2010. The reality is that if we have a vastly greater number of outlets selling alcohol then it will be much easier for young people under 18 to access greater quantities of alcohol and more frequently. A 2006 study found that 86% of 15 and 16 year olds said it was easy to get alcohol. It is the mixed trading outlets (supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol stations) where young people are primarily accessing alcohol.
We welcome the recommendation in this report for the introduction of structural separation of alcohol from other products and dedicated cashier for the sale of alcohol.
The drinks industry spends significant amounts of money on advertising and marketing. In the period from 2001 to 2008 the advertising spend increased by 63% from 38m to 62m.
The Report of an independent Science Group established by the European Alcohol & Health Forum of the European Commission conducted a review of longitudinal studies on the impact of marketing communication on the volume and patterns of consumption of alcoholic beverages, especially by young people. The scientific opinion of the Group concluded from the studies reviewed that alcohol marketing increases the likelihood that adolescents will start to use alcohol, and to drink more if they are already using alcohol.
There is also strong public support for a ban on alcohol advertising directed at young people. A Eurobarometer poll found that 81% of Irish people would support a ban.
We welcome the proposed legislation and regulation of alcohol advertising and marketing.