Findings from the most comprehensive survey of Australia’s drinking practices have confirmed a continuation of longstanding positive trends in our community.
“These significant results confirm that the vast majority of Australians are continuing to enjoy alcohol sensibly and in moderation, with continued declines in underage drinking an important long-term trend,” Alcohol Beverages Australia Executive Director Fergus Taylor said.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare National Drug Strategy Household Survey, conducted in late 2016, has shown that fewer Australians are drinking to excess than in 2013, with 83 per cent of people drinking moderately or abstaining. Since 2010, the proportion of people aged 18-29 years drinking at risky levels has declined significantly.
Fewer people aged 12–17 years old are drinking – a consistent trend for more than a decade – with 82 per cent of this age group not drinking at all, constituting a 10 per cent rise in just three years.
People aged 14–24 have continued to delay starting drinking – from 14.7 years old in 2001 to 16.1 years in 2016, with a notable increase from 15.7 years in 2013. Young adults are also drinking less—a significantly lower proportion of 18–24 year olds consumed 5 or more standard drinks on a monthly basis (42 per cent in 2016, down from 47 per cent in 2013).
The report, which includes information on nearly 24,000 Australians’ use of—and attitudes toward—alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs, also shows that since 2013, overall the number of Australians drinking alcohol daily and weekly has fallen.
“While alcohol advertising is often blamed as a cause of underage drinking, this is not supported by official data or credible evidence. Significantly, the decline in underage drinking has occurred while alcohol advertising has increased and expanded onto new digital platforms including social media – a clear indication that regulations in place are working well,” Mr Taylor said.
“Through initiatives like DrinkWise, the industry has been targeting the real causes of underage drinking – parental behaviour and peer group influence – with campaigns that remind parents that their kids absorb their drinking behaviours, and the survey results show this strategy has been highly successful.
“The industry does however recognise that alcohol misuse still occurs in some age groups, with increases in older people’s drinking revealed in the report indicating improvements are not consistent in all areas. We are committed to working with governments and local communities to solve all problem drinking behaviours, targeting at-risk groups through a combination of education and strict enforcement on sales.”
Alcohol Beverages Australia is the peak industry body created to highlight the positive social, cultural and economic contribution of alcohol beverages in Australia, and promote, explain and defend the legitimate rights of the industry and the 15 million Australians who drink responsibly.
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