Adolescent alcohol consumption falls sharply

The prevalence of weekly alcohol consumption by adolescents in Ireland fell by 8.6% between 2002 and 2014, from 12.7% to 4.1%, well below the 12.9% average in the European region, according to a new report from the World Health Organisation. 

The Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland has welcomed the new report, Adolescent alcohol-related behaviours: trends and inequalities in the WHO European Region, 2002–2014, which finds that Ireland ranked 34th out of the 36 countries and regions examined in terms of the prevalence of weekly drinking by adolescents. It also noted that prevalence of weekly drinking among girls and boys – at 2% and 5% respectively – is one of the lowest in the European region.

The report finds:

  • Ireland ranking 30th out of 36 countries and regions in terms of prevalence of drunkenness in 2014, well below the average in the European region
  • a sharp fall from 32.1% in 2002 to 16.2% in 2014 in the number of adolescents in Ireland who said they’d been drunk two or more times in their lifetime
  • Ireland ranking 30th and 31st of 36 countries or regions in terms of the prevalence of early alcohol initiation (first time to consume alcohol) and early drunkenness among girls and boys respectively in 2014.


“ABFI is totally opposed to underage drinking and the misuse of alcohol associated with it,” said ABFI Director Patricia Callan, “We welcome this report which shows that important progress has been made since 2002, with a sharp decline in drinking among adolescents in Ireland.

“There are a number of reasons for this decline. For example in Ireland we adhere to some of the strictest advertising codes in the world for both content and volume of alcohol advertising and we’re committed to maintaining those high standards. These codes have existed since 2003 and mean that no alcohol advertising can appeal directly to young people or feature anyone who is, or appears to be, under the age of 25.

“Going forward, there are a number of initiatives being put in place to further tackle the exposure of young people to alcohol. For example, recently a new initiative has been launched which sees leading beer, wine and spirits producers joining forces with prominent digital platforms (facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube) to set and deliver new and robust standards for marketing alcohol online.

“We want to work with Government and stakeholders to further reduce the level of consumption by young people.

“In terms of legislation, we support the objectives of the Alcohol Bill, which aims to reduce harmful drinking and underage drinking. But we need targeted and evidence-based measures to do this, which is currently not the case with a number of proposals, particularly cancer warning labels.”




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