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News / May 20, 2008

Government acts to reduce teenage alcohol intake

by Guy Hiscott

With excessive alcohol intake acknowledged as a major contributing factor to mouth cancer, the Health Service Executive has launched a new alcohol awareness campaign aimed at delaying the age at which young people start to drink.

The HSE Alcohol Awareness Campaign features a thought provoking television advertisement depicting a number of young people in a variety of situations where they are exposed to and gain access to alcohol. The aim of the campaign is to increase awareness in adults about the extent of underage drinking, the ease of access that young people have to alcohol and the benefits in delaying the age at which young people start to drink.

Mary Wallace TD, Minister for Health Promotion and Food Safety, said, ‘In order to tackle the problems associated with alcohol misuse we need to take responsibility both collectively and individually to protect children and young people from the harms caused by alcohol misuse. I intend focusing on alcohol policy as a priority in my new role as Minister for Health Promotion.’

Dr Joe Barry, Population Health Directorate, HSE, said ‘There are many benefits to delaying the age at which young people start to drink; underage drinking is a risk factor for heavy drinking later in life and starting drinking in mid-teens increases four-fold the risk of alcohol dependence in later life. However, many adults simply do not realise the impact their alcohol intake has on their children. Young people’s drinking behaviour is very often modelled on those observed in adults, so it is particularly important that children and young people are equipped with the skills and knowledge to cope when faced with choices about alcohol.’

To support the campaign the HSE has a number of alcohol awareness booklets available. The purpose of these booklets is to help parents discuss the issue of alcohol with their teenagers and assist adults in reflecting on their own alcohol use. ‘Straight Talk – a guide for parents on teenage drinking’ and ‘Less is More’ can be accessed at or through the HSE Infoline 1850 24 1850.