Alcohol reduction strategy sets sights on young people

The Scottish Government will set out their Alcohol Framework next week with almost half of the plan's 20 actions aimed specifically at protecting young people.

Problem drinking often starts in adolescence. Picture: iStockphoto/Getty

Nicola Sturgeon will address the 8th European Alcohol Policy Conference (8EAPC) which will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh.

The new Scottish Government framework will state their belief that a “new approach” to alcohol education is needed for young people in schools. It will also say that education needs to be delivered in different and innovative ways beyond the classroom to reach those at risk.

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It notes that recent years have seen encouraging trends in alcohol use among young people. The 2015 Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey reported 4 per cent of 13-year-olds and 17 per cent of 15-year-olds had drunk alcohol in the previous week, the lowest since the survey series began monitoring drinking behaviour in 1990.

Experts from Belgium, England, Poland and Slovenia will join their Scottish counterparts at 8EAPC whose theme is “Enlightened Alcohol Policy for the 21st Century”.

Dr Eric Carlin, director at Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), will chair one of the sessions focused on young people’s experiences. He said: “I’m really excited to be chairing the youth session of the conference.

“We’ll have lots to discuss, including thinking about how to draw on recent studies that suggest we may be seeing reductions in alcohol consumption by young people. If that’s happening, we need to welcome that, understand it and strategise, based on what we learn.

“International collaboration continues to be vitally important, regardless of what’s happening in international politics.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our updated alcohol framework will have a strong focus on protecting and educating children and young people from alcohol-related harm. Scotland has made good progress in recent years, but we want to go further and do far more to protect children and young people and achieve our aim of making Scotland the best country in the world to grow up in.

“This means giving children a fair chance to flourish, in this Year of Young People and beyond, and creating an environment where we support and enable positive health behaviours.”