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Industry welcomes lower underage drinking figures

Published:  26 July, 2013

The drinks industry has largely welcomed the latest round of official figures that show a continued downward trend in the numbers of young people drinking in the UK.

The results of a study compiled by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England 2012) revealed the following key findings:

  • 43% of pupils said that they had drunk alcohol at least once, down from 61% in 2003.
  • 10% of pupils had drunk alcohol in the past week, down from 26% in 2003 and 12% in 2011.
  • In 2012, 28% of pupils surveyed  thought it was OK for someone of their age to drink once a week, compared with 46% in 2003.
  • Pupils who drank alcohol were most likely to do so in their own home (54%), someone else's home (48%), at parties with friends (47%), or somewhere outside (18%). There has been an increase since 2006 of pupils drinking at home or a friends' homes, compared with drinking outside.
  • 33% of pupils said that they had obtained alcohol in the past week, down from 49% in 2004.
  • The most common ways of obtaining alcohol was via their parents (19%), by friends (19%), asking someone else to buy it (13%) or taking it from home (13%).

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, said: "This report shows that good progress is continuing to be made in tackling underage drinking. The number of young people that have never drunk alcohol has increased and those that do drink are drinking less frequently.  

"The combination of education and responsible drinking messages is reaching young people. That is why our members continue to invest millions of pounds in campaigns to change attitudes to alcohol misuse."

The Portman Group said: "It is encouraging to see that the number of children drinking continues to fall and that fewer children consider it acceptable to drink. However, there are still those who continue to drink, and do so to harmful levels. The industry will continue to work in partnership with both local and central government to ensure targeted and effective measures are in place to deal with underage sales and binge-drinking where they are most prevalent."