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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003

Vol. 561 No. 1

Written Answers. - Alcohol Abuse.

David Stanton


375 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children his plans to curb underage drinking and to deter overuse of alcohol in society; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2894/03]

I have expressed my concerns about the issue of alcohol misuse by young people and by society in general on a number of occasions. My Department is already involved in a wide range of partnerships with other Departments and bodies in an effort to tackle this issue. Education programmes have been developed so that young people may be more informed and better equipped to make informed decisions when faced with the issue of alcohol. Children are targeted through the social, personal and health education curriculum's substance misuse prevention programmes "Walk Tall" and "On My Own Two Feet". In accordance with action 43 of the national drugs strategy, the Department of Education and Science in partnership with the health promotion unit of my Department and the health boards, has issued guidelines for developing a school substance abuse policy to all primary and post-primary schools. The national youth health promotion programme with support from the health promotion unit, initiated a national project which provided opportunities for young people aged 14 to 16 years to explore their relationship with alcohol. The health promotion unit of my Department is currently engaged in a three year alcohol awareness campaign entitled "Less is More; It's Your Choice". Some phases of the campaign have focused on those who buy or supply alcohol to those underage with a poster and radio messages with the theme of keeping children safe from drink. Also targeted are third level students in the restaurants of colleges with some facts on alcohol and a reminder that alcohol can affect one's finances, studies and health. Youth leaders and health professionals in each of the health board areas are being asked to identify best practice initiatives within communities that promote awareness of alcohol to young people.

In the college setting, universities and third level institutions came together to formulate a response to a growing concern about alcohol promotion practices and on-campus, high-risk drinking among students and the impact on student academic achievement and student attrition. A framework for the development of a college alcohol policy was developed and each third level institution can adopt the guidelines to reflect the needs and aspirations of their own campus environment.

One of the recommendations of the strategic task force on alcohol which I established last year concerns limiting the exposure of children and adolescents to alcohol marketing. Officials from my Department will shortly commence preparatory work in relation to this recommendation. The primary aim of this measure will be to protect young people, especially children, from over exposure to alcohol advertising.