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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 January 2006, 09:57 GMT
Call for action on young drinkers
Almost 40% of 15-year-old girls admitted to drinking spirits each week
Almost 40% of 15-year-old girls drink spirits each week
A leading expert on alcohol abuse has called for tough restrictions on drink advertising after a report revealed shocking figures for Scots youngsters.

More Scottish girls regularly drink strong alcohol than young females in any other country, according to a study by the World Health Organization.

Almost 40% of 15-year-olds admitted to drinking spirits each week, compared with 1% in Russia and 7% in America.

The report's author, Dr Holger Schmid, called for politicians to take action.

Dr Schmid, vice-director of the Lausanne-based Swiss Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Problems, told the Sunday Times: "These figures are very serious and send a clear message that action is needed to address this problem."

"Scotland is ahead in the statistics and I hope the politicians have seen this as a good reason for action.

"Politicians should present a consistent alcohol policy."

The study, based on WHO surveys conducted in 35 countries between 2000 and 2001, said Scots girls get drunk for the first time at a younger age.

On average, Scots have their first drink at 12 and get drunk for the first time a year later.

A fifth of 13-year-olds in Scotland had been drunk more than once and 6% of 11-year-old boys.

Among 13 and 11-year-olds, only English girls drank more.

Dr Schmid said: "It is not consistent to restrict access to alcohol on the one hand while allowing alcohol advertising linked to sports and pictures that glamorise drinking in magazines.

"I would advocate a ban [on alcohol advertising] in sport to make drinking less glamorous. There is a large amount of research which shows that alcohol advertising is effective and millions of pounds are being spent on this promotion every year."

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