Scottish Government
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Young people to help tackle alcohol misuse

A Youth Commission on Alcohol is to be set up so that young people can play an active role in tackling Scotland's £2.25 billion alcohol misuse problem.

Announcing the new commission at the Scottish Government's Summit on Underage Drinking in Edinburgh, Public Health Minister Shona Robison said the forum would allow young people to give direct feedback to Ministers. She said young people themselves were the key to getting to grips with underage drinking.

Ms Robison and Adam Ingram, Minister for Children and Early Years, spoke to 150 adults and young people at the one-day summit which featured a series of workshops on tackling underage drinking.

Ms Robison said:

"I am delighted today to announce my intention to establish a Youth Commission on Alcohol to be made up of young people from across Scotland.

"We recognise that alcohol misuse is a societal issue in Scotland and by no means restricted to young people. But drinking habits are formed early, so it's vital we hear what young people think should be done if we are to bring about the cultural shift needed to rebalance Scotland's relationship with alcohol.

"So I have invited Young Scot to appoint a representative group of young people to take this work forward over the next 12 months, involving other young people's organisations where appropriate.

"The Scottish Government has put forward radical proposals for tackling alcohol misuse, including a minimum price for a unit of alcohol, raising the off-sales alcohol purchase age to 21, ending irresponsible promotions and a social responsibility fee for some retailers.

"With our consultation on these proposals due to close in just a week's time on September 9, I would urge everyone to give us their views via the online response form on the Scottish Government's website."

In her speech at the summit, Ms Robison said that young people themselves were at greater risk of being the victims of alcohol-related violence than older people.

She also outlined some of the work the Scottish Government is doing to tackle underage drinking and give young people more constructive things to do.

She said that through the Government's CashBack for Communities programme - which reinvests funds recovered from criminals back into local communities - more than £8 million had already been invested in sport, culture and arts initiatives for young people and more would be done in the future.

She also said the nationwide rollout of test purchasing would complement the tougher licensing provisions in the 2005 Licensing Act, to clamp down on rogue retailers who sell alcohol to children.

She also made reference to over-21 off-sales purchasing pilots - in Armadale, West Lothian and Cupar, Fife - which saw calls to police about alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour fall by up to 60 per cent.

Adam Ingram, Minister for Children and Early Years, said:

"We want all young people in Scotland to have the chance to learn, develop and become responsible and engaged citizens. Alcohol misuse can rob our young people of this opportunity, impacting on families, schools and communities.

"We welcome all views on what can be done to reduce alcohol-related harm among our youth and it is essential that young people take an active role in developing solutions.

"Through working closely with our partners in local government and the voluntary sector we have an excellent opportunity to secure this engagement as we work together to create a brighter future for young people in Scotland."

  • In 2006, 36 percent of 15 year olds and 14 percent of 13 year olds drank alcohol in the previous week.
  • Almost a fifth (18 per cent) of 15 years olds reported being drunk on at least 10 occasions, while 15 per cent of 13 year olds say they have been drunk at least four times.
  • Of those children who have drank alcohol in the last week, a third (32 per cent) of 13 year olds and half (50 per cent) of 15 year olds reported deliberately trying to get drunk.
  • One in six of those 15 year olds who had drunk alcohol reported trying drugs and one in seven reported having unprotected sex as a consequence of alcohol consumption.
  • Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of 15 year olds, and 17 per cent of 13 year olds, who had drunk alcohol, have been in trouble with the police due to drinking alcohol.
  • A series of audits on the impact of alcohol on Accident and Emergency departments found that nearly 650 children - including 15 children under twelve and one as young as eight years old - were treated for alcohol-related health problems during the six-week audit period.
  • Around a quarter of young people attending A&E for alcohol-related problems had been assaulted.
  • Fifty-one percent of people think alcohol is the drug which causes most problems in Scottish society, compared with 22 per cent who say heroin and nine per cent who say tobacco.
  • 65,000 Scottish children are estimated to live with a parent whose drinking is problematic.
  • A quarter of children on the Child Protection Register are estimated to be there due to parental alcohol or drug misuse.

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