The alcohol beverages industry welcomes the significant improvements in the drinking habits of Australians shown in the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare National Drug Strategy Household Survey, which serve as a clear reminder that most Australians drink responsibly and alcohol advertising is not the predominant driver of underage drinking.
“The vast majority of Australians continuing to enjoy alcohol sensibly and fewer young people trying drinks too early are excellent long term trends,” Alcohol Beverages Australia Executive Director Fergus Taylor said.
“The big decline in underage drinking has been achieved while alcohol advertising has increased significantly and diversified onto new platforms like social media, further emphasising that the industry is marketing its products responsibly and self-regulation is working.
“While alcohol advertising is often blamed as a cause of underage drinking, this is not supported by official data or credible evidence. These positive results show regulations in place to protect children and curb underage drinking are working.”
The survey, conducted in late 2016, is the most reliable and trusted source on Australia’s drinking practices, and has shown that fewer people aged 12–17 years old are drinking alcohol than in 2013 – a consistent trend for more than a decade – and the proportion in this age group abstaining from alcohol has risen significantly from 72 to 82 per cent.
People aged 14–24 have continued to delay starting drinking – from 14 years old in 1998 to 16 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% in 2016, down from 47% in 2013).
“Through initiatives like DrinkWise, the industry has been targeting the real causes of underage drinking – parental behaviour and peer group influence – and the survey results show this strategy is working,” Mr Taylor said.
The report, which includes information on nearly 24,000 Australians’ use of—and attitudes toward—alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs, also shows compared with three years ago, overall the number of Australians drinking alcohol daily and weekly is falling.
“It is also heartening to see that this is translating to safer communities. ‘Alcohol-related’ incidences of violence have fallen across the board, with significantly fewer people being physically or verbally abused.
“Despite these positive and important results the industry acknowledges there is still misuse of alcohol and will continue to target at-risk groups to change their attitudes and behaviour.
“Continuing downward trends in areas such as underage drinking is an important national responsibility, requiring a combination of education and strict enforcement on underage sales, and the alcohol industry is committed to working with governments and local communities to ensure this continues.”
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. www.alcoholbeveragesaustralia.org.au
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