Alcohol poll prompts action call
Young people in the UK are more likely to have been drunk by the age of 13 than those in almost any other country, according to a study.
Those aged 15 to 16 are more likely to have been drunk at least once in the last month than their counterparts almost anywhere else, while young people agree that "drinking to get drunk" is the defining feature of their relationship with alcohol, the survey for the charity Alcohol Concern found.
Only Estonia, Malta and the Isle of Man have recorded higher figures.
It also revealed that 63% of 16 to 24-year-olds agree that cheap alcohol promotions encourage excessive drinking, and 61% say that advertising which associates alcohol with having fun influences expectations of drinking or being drunk. YouthSight interviewed 1,000 people aged 16 to 24 in March.
The study, to mark Alcohol Awareness Week, claims that alcohol is 44% more affordable now in relative terms than it was in 1980 and that there has been a 25% growth in the number of off-licensed premises, increasing the availability of "cheap" alcohol.
It found seven out of 10 young people (69%) agree that the difference in the price of alcohol bought from pubs and bars compared with off-licences influences how they drink.
They also reported that it is often "cheaper to buy a three-litre bottle of cider than buy a ticket to go to the cinema".
Alcohol Concern's programme policy manager, Tom Smith, said: "This report is further proof of the impact cheap alcohol is having on the health and wellbeing of our young people.
"They have told us loud and clear that the way in which alcohol is priced influences the way they drink. We also know that our young people are more likely to have experienced being drunk by the age of 13 than their peers in almost any other European country.
"This survey shows just how urgent action on minimum unit pricing is and we're calling on the Government to set a 50p minimum unit price without delay."