By Andrew Starke
The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) has welcomed findings of a reduction in harmful drinking by teenagers and pregnant women as signs of improvement in Australia’s drinking culture.
A National Household Survey, conducted by the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare under the National Drug Strategy, found the proportion of teenagers abstaining from alcohol increased significantly from the previous survey in 2007 (from 69.9 percent in 2007 to 77.2 percent in 2010 for 12-15 year olds, and from 24.4 percent to 31.6 percent for 16-17 year olds).
The survey also found the proportion of women abstaining from alcohol during pregnancy increased from 40 percent to 52.2 percent.
AHA National CEO Des Crowe said the findings were positive and showed the industry’s efforts to promote responsible alcohol consumption have been worthwhile.
“These are encouraging results and indicate that Australia is starting to shift towards a healthier drinking culture where there is less risky drinking”, he said.
“The alcohol industry has been an active partner in initiatives aimed at encouraging parents to be a positive influence on their children’s attitudes to alcohol for several years now, and it appears these efforts are beginning to have a positive effect.”
Crowe added that parents deserved credit for the role they play in reducing drinking levels amongst teenage minors.
“The industry has stepped-up its commitment to minimising alcohol-related harm and these results show we are on the right track,” he said.
”The recent announcement by major alcohol companies to voluntarily introduce pregnancy warning messages on packaging will help to build on the progress already made in this area.”
The AHA expressed concern with the report’s findings of a sharp increase in illicit drug use, which were up across most categories.
“It is very concerning to see illicit drug usage up once again,” said Crowe.
“Our members, who are trying to maintain their hotels as safe and welcoming environments, continue to express frustration that not enough attention is paid to the increasing normalisation of illicit drug use and the impact this has on the community.
“This data should convince governments across Australia that more must be done to combat the growing problem of illicit drug use in our communities.”