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Clamp down on teen drinks - senior doctor

Thursday December 17th, 2009

Teenagers under the age of 15 should not be given any alcoholic drinks, Britain's chief medical officer said today.

Up to the age of 17, teenagers should only drink in a supervised environment or guided by a parent, according to Professor Sir Liam Donaldson.

The advice overturns conventional wisdom that binge drinking is caused by sudden exposure of young people to alcohol in their late teens.

Sir Liam said he had gained backing from parents in surveys conducted since he first outlined his proposals at the beginning of the year.

He also gained backing from doctors' and nurses' representatives today.

The government's department for children and families is to launch a campaign promoting the new policy early next year.

Sir Liam said: "Across England, half a million children between the ages of 11 and 15 years will have been drunk in the past four weeks.

"The science is clear. Drinking particularly at a young age, a lack of parental supervision, exposing children to drink-fuelled events and failing to engage with them as they grow up are the root causes from which our country's serious alcohol problem has developed.

"The overwhelmingly positive response to the guidance has shown that this is a major issue for parents and carers."

Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, called for television dramas to stop glamourising young people's drinking.

He said: "Adolescence can be a very stressful time both for young people and parents and some people do seem to see drinking as a rite of passage and so providing more information and support for responsible drinking with clear signposting for the services available, is a good thing."

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said further measures were needed to "repair the nation's turbulent relationship with alcohol".

He said:"Both in A&E departments and in classrooms nurses see the devastating effects alcohol is having on young people everyday - it is damaging not just their health but also their education, development and general wellbeing."

Tags: Drug and Alcohol Abuse | Infancy to Adolescence | UK News

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