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Concern over 'cheap booze' availability
[Posted: Wed 18/08/2010 by Deborah Condon www.irishhealth.com]
The national charity for alcohol-related issues has expressed concern about the availability of ‘cheap booze' to young people who are due their Leaving Cert results.
Almost 58,000 students are due to receive their results today and according to Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI), cans of beer are being sold for as little as 66c each, while bottles of vodka are selling for less than €12.
"The Leaving Cert can be a very emotional time for those getting results. Adding alcohol into an emotional mix can make it very difficult for young people to cope - alcohol increases emotional volatility and impacts on someone's ability to make decisions," commented AAI director, Fiona Ryan.
She pointed out that new figures from the Central Statistics Office show that alcohol prices in Ireland have fallen by 4.6% over the last 12 months. She said that the availability of cheap alcohol to young people is a particular cause for concern ‘in the context of pre-loading and house parties'.
"With the price of alcohol at the moment, it is possible to get drunk for as little as €6. Certainly, it's possible for women to reach their low risk drinking limit for just €6.30 a week and men can do so for under €10," Ms Ryan said.
She believes that Ireland needs to ‘seriously consider' a minimum pricing initiative - a price under which alcohol cannot be sold.
"We have significant problems with drunkenness among young people and we know that cheap alcohol is particularly appealing. If you consider that the Office of Tobacco Control estimated that the average Irish 16 to 17-year-old was spending around €20 a week on alcohol, then €20 has the potential to buy a lot more alcohol that it used to.
"The price of alcohol might be cheaper, but the costs in terms of health and lives could be very high for individual teenagers and their families," she insisted.
Ms Ryan urged parents to talk with their teenagers ahead of celebrations and ask basic questions such as:
-How they are feeling - Leaving Cert results can be an emotional time?
-Are they planning on drinking?
-Who are they going to be with?
-How are they getting there and back?
-What time are they planning to get home?
"We would encourage parents to ask their teens how they're feeling about their results. Even students getting good results can sometimes experience a sense of anti-climax," she added.
For parents who want more information on talking to their children about drinking, click on www.alcoholireland.ie and visit the ‘Alcohol and You' section.
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