Australia’s alcohol industry has welcomed a report from Deakin University and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute which found the number of teenagers who consumed alcohol fell from 69 per cent to 45 per cent between 1999 and 2015.
The report also found that fewer teenagers were using drugs than 20 years and that tobacco use had also dropped over the same period.
The report was welcomed by Alcohol Beverages Australia’s Executive Director, Fergus Taylor, who told TheShout: “The Deakin research is further confirmation of long term trends that show young Australians are learning what they need to know about alcohol and making better decisions about when it’s OK to consume it.
“The industry is rightly proud of the work it has done to stop young people buying or getting access to alcohol and the important role the DrinkWise awareness campaigns have played in generating these positive results.”
DrinkWise has run a number of campaigns in recent years aimed at helping teenagers and parents understand responsible drinking and alcohol supply and also helping parents to talk to their children about drinking and alcohol.
The report’s lead researcher, Professor John Toumbourou said the report also found a drop in the parental supply of alcohol and in underage purchases of alcohol, which shows the success of Australia’s public health campaigns in recent years.
“We can see that parents are taking on the advice from our national health guidelines. It shows parents are making radical changes in their attitude to underage drinking and also how they model their own drinking behaviour.”
Brett Heffernan, CEO of the Brewers Association, also welcomed the report saying that while more needs to be done, the industry is clearly tracking in the right direction.
“What is clear is that underage drinking is in consistent long-term decline in Australia and the age of initiation (having a first drink) continues to rise. Of the 18 per cent of teens who tried alcohol, the age of first drink has moved up from 14 years and 7 months in 2004 to 16 years and 1 month in 2016.”
He added: “The Australian Bureau of Statistics has charted a dramatic decline in alcohol consumption per capita, which has fallen, decade on decade, for more than 40 years. Since peak alcohol consumption of 12.9 pure litres per head of population in the mid-1970s, consumption has fallen by 25 per cent.
“For beer’s part, over the same period, consumption has fallen from 9.5 litres per capita to just 3.9 litres today (in pure alcohol). And one quarter of all beer sales in Australia today are for light or mid-strength beers.
“In general, today’s drinkers in Australia are more discerning, better informed and better equipped socially regarding responsible alcohol consumption than ever before. Yet we must do more to tackle persistent misuse and ant-social behaviour.”