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Adults move to address youth drinking

Adults move to address youth drinking

Adults must take a close look at their own behaviour when it comes to alcohol and think before pointing the finger at young people says the Alcohol Advisory Council.

Supplying alcohol to people under 18 is still a major issue in many New Zealand communities and licensed premises are not the only problem here according to Sandra Kirby, Programme Manager at ALAC. There is a big concern around adults both supplying alcohol and modeling irresponsible drinking behaviour, thereby validating a binge drinking culture in the community.

Ms Kirby was commending the small West Coast town of Westport on their launch of the Youth Access to Alcohol programme this evening that aims to address supply of alcohol to minors. Westport is one of 18 communities working with this ALAC-initiated programme developing and trialing a range of strategies to reduce the illegal and inappropriate supply of alcohol by adults to young people.

“We in ALAC have been very aware that much of the pressure to change young people’s drinking has blamed young people when the reality for many is that the adults in their family and their community have actively encouraged, condoned and supplied the alcohol that causes the problem. For Westport, or any community, to really reduce the levels of alcohol-related harm experienced by young people - adults need to look at and change their behaviour.”

“Too often we complain about the ‘young people of today’ drinking too much and being out of control,” says Ms Kirby. “We have to ask why they’re drinking heavily, where they’re getting the alcohol from and what we’re doing about it?”

“We can put some measures in place and take our responsibilities as parents and adults more seriously. What’s more, in many instances adults are supplying alcohol to minors quite illegally. This is not just the domain of bottles stores and pubs who sell to minors. 19 year olds purchasing alcohol for their under 18 friends to take to parties is illegal too, as is the parent who provides alcohol for minors other than their own.

“Additionally though, there’s little question children and young people will do what adults do. I’d say think twice before you complain of a hangover on Saturday morning – or better still, think about whether your children saw you get into that state in the first place.

“West Coast licensees have unfortunately performed pretty poorly in recent controlled purchase operations or ‘stings”, with 16 of 18 premises selling to minors. I’d suggest this is a community problem that everyone needs to embrace and I’m rapt with the energy and commitment the Westport community has put into launching this programme.”

Ms Kirby says other communities in New Zealand have made great progress after implementing the programme and she looks forward to similar success in Westport. International evidence shows that a range of strategies, including enforcement and community action can make a difference.

The launch takes place this evening at 7.30pm.

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