Alcohol use and abuse

 

Sir, – Kathryn D’Arcy, of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (April 17th) would have us believe that alcohol consumption among young people in Ireland is falling and that when it comes to marketing alcohol, we have one of the most tightly regulated systems in the world. She criticises Dr Michael Loftus (April 13th) for citing UK data on the high level exposure and susceptibility of young people to alcohol advertising. Does she imagine that young people in Ireland are less exposed or less susceptible to alcohol advertising?

We have completed a study of alcohol consumption in a group of 2,275 third- level undergraduate students attending University College Cork. The sample of 2,275 represented 51 per cent of those registered for the relevant course modules which were sampled to be representative of the entire undergraduate student population. We defined hazardous alcohol consumption using standard internationally agreed criteria. The proportion of students reporting hazardous levels of alcohol consumption was 66 per cent. We have no reason to believe that the non-respondents to this survey, who were absent from class on the day of sampling, are drinking at less harmful levels. We also have no reason to believe that this pattern of alcohol consumption is unique to University College Cork, which in recent years has developed a campus- wide health-promoting university initiative with a significant focus and dedicated resources focused on the problem of excessive alcohol consumption.

In relation to the allegedly tight regulation of alcohol marketing, our students can purchase 1 litre of branded vodka on line for €20 from a leading high street retail chain.

These observations highlight the scale of the problems we face in our efforts to reduce alcohol consumption to safe levels in young people and the urgent need for the government to address this issue through a range of measures, including minimum unit pricing for alcohol and a complete and immediate ban on alcohol sponsorship of sporting and cultural events.

MARTIN DAVOREN, PhD Student, Dr MICHAEL BYRNE, Head of Student Health Department, & Dr IVAN PERRY, Prof of Public Health,

University College Cork.

Sir, – Alcohol is being portrayed as a normal, socially acceptable pastime. Brands are sponsoring football and other sporting events that young children watch during the day and early evening on TV. The children see beautiful people laughing and having a good time while drinking: it’s glamorous and misleading.

It is time to show the shocking truth about alcohol abuse – the alcohol-related deaths, vomiting, urinating and fighting on streets. The Road Safety Authority shows us the aftermath of speeding and reckless driving; surely it’s time to show what really happens when too much alcohol is consumed. – Yours, etc,

DEREK O’SULLIVAN,

Myrtle Road, The Coast,

Baldoyle,

Dublin 13.