Young People's Drinking
There has been a recent local crackdown on young people drinking in public (TEEN DRINKERS IN CRACKDOWN)
We are often asked to comment on young people's drinking.
It must be noted that for the young people in our survey,
* most drinking is in moderate quantities
* most drinking is done at home with knowledge if not approval of parents
However, there are undoubtedly some school-age children who are keen to adopt the heavier-drinking and binge-drinking patterns of behaviour that are found in the 18-24 year-old age group. For young people under 18, the alcohol they consume is usually provided by an adult -- either giving it to them, or allowing them to buy it. (The alternative being stolen drink.) So if we are pointing fingers at young people, at least a finger should remain pointing in the direction of adult culture.
The more flexible licensing laws -- which most famously allow for 24-hour drinking -- are said to be an attempt to move us towards a 'continental-style' drinking culture.
In the context of our actual 'Northern European' drinking culture, it's harder to see the merit in encouraging people to be able to drink for longer.
In fact, continental-style drinking isn't all enviable -- they may have fewer lager louts in France, but they also have twice our rate of cirrhosis of the liver amongst men, three times the death rate from alcohol-related causes amongst men, and very probably more alcoholics. Overall, alcohol is the third largest cause of preventable death in France, and it was claimed last year that one French person in every 10 is ill as a result of drinking.
The UK has had historically low rates of chronic liver diseases like cirrhosis, but we are catching up fast -- our rates are going up, but in the rest of Europe they are going down. Commentators have blamed "official insouciance" for this difference in trends between the UK and Europe.