[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 14 September 2006, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Tighter alcohol controls rejected
Teenage boys
Cannabis, alcohol and tobacco use among young Britons is high
Calls for tighter controls on alcohol advertising and sponsorship have been rejected by the government.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which advises the government, said tougher methods to teach children about alcohol and tobacco were needed.

But Schools Minister Lord Adonis said the government was focusing on existing policies to combat a consumption rise.

Fifteen-year-olds in Britain are among Europe's heaviest users of alcohol, cannabis and tobacco.

Our policy is to give primacy to enforcement, to detection and to penalties
Lord Adonis
Schools minister

In its report, the advisory council called for controls such as raising duty on alcohol, increasing the legal smoking age from 16 to 18, banning alcohol adverts on television and prohibiting alcohol firms from sponsoring sports or music events watched by under-18s.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Culture Media and Sport said ministers had "no plans" to ban alcohol adverts or alcohol firms sponsoring events.

In addition, a proposal by the panel for a new lower drink-drive limit for young adults was immediately ruled out by ministers.

"It is incumbent on us to state our policy and our policy is to give primacy to enforcement, to detection and to penalties and we believe that that's going to have the most effect," Lord Adonis said.

However, he said, the panel had urged the government to pay much more attention to best practice in drugs education in schools "and we do take that on board".

The more available you make drink, the worse the problem will get.
Stephen Reimer, East Grinstead

Between a fifth and a quarter of 15-year-olds are regular smokers, half drink alcohol at least once a week and nearly a quarter have used illegal drugs in the past month, the panel said.

While the panel said that children should be given drugs advice, many people took up drugs or increased usage in their late teens and early 20s, and they should also be targeted.

Having reviewed research from across the world, the committee of doctors and scientists concluded that the success of school-based schemes was "slight or non-existent" and could even be "counter-productive".

Smokers die 10 years younger than non-smokers, on average
The addiction is the cause of 29% of all UK cancer deaths
Cigarettes have killed about 6m people in the last 50 years
Alcohol misuse leads to up to 22,000 deaths a year
Drink plays a role in about third of domestic violence cases
The NHS spends up to 1.7bn a year on alcohol misuse cases
Sources: Cancer Research UK, Prime Minister's Strategy Unit

Its chairman, Dr Laurence Gruer, said urgent action was needed to deal with alcohol use.

"We've seen over the last 10 to 12 years, particularly among young women, our consumption of alcohol has virtually doubled.

"We are also seeing across the whole of the UK a dramatic rise in the amount of cirrhosis of the liver that's caused by chronic drinking and we are now the fastest growing country in Europe in terms of alcoholic cirrhosis."

Alison Rogers from the British Liver Trust told BBC News 24 young people were affected by alcohol both in the short and long term.

"It affects them acutely in short bursts when they drink and then they fall over, injure their faces, get involved in sexual incidents, get involved in violence," she said.

"But then it affects them longer term ... which is that young people are getting into drinking patterns which are quickly turning into social problems in their 40s and 50s."

The 100-page report had other recommendations including:

  • a ban on alcohol advertising on TV and at most cinemas
  • forcing shopkeepers to demand proof of age and greater use of under-age test purchases
  • stopping the use of drug testing and sniffer dogs in schools

The council is an influential body and ministers acted on one of its previous recommendations by re-classifying cannabis.

In response to the report, the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association said it backed moves preventing young people accessing tobacco, but it was up to the government to decide at what age the threshold should be.

The report's author on why action is needed

What can schools do about drugs?
14 Sep 06 |  Education
Brewers defend music sponsorship
14 Sep 06 |  Entertainment
US drugs tsar backs pupil tests
10 Aug 06 |  Education
Schools 'must teach about drugs'
27 Jul 06 |  Education
Drugs tests in schools 'extreme'
31 May 06 |  Education


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific