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Page last updated at 08:44 GMT, Thursday, 17 December 2009

Price rise 'key to cutting youth drinking'

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The chief medical officer for England has called upon parents not to give any alcohol to children under the age of 15.

Sir Liam Donaldson told Today presenter Sarah Montague that under-age drinking was contributing to a culture of binge drinking and called on the government to raise the price of alcohol to combat the problem.

He said that figures show that half a million 11 to 15 year-olds got drunk in the past four weeks.

And Sir Liam added that, although there was "no harm" in parents introducing children to alcohol by allowing them to try drinks like watered-down wine, most young people's first experience of drink is getting drunk on lager or cider in a local park.

If young people can delay drinking, he said, this is the best way to establish a better pattern of drinking in later life.

"The idea of a drunk as some sort of hero to be admired is something that is helping to cause the problem and it's something we need to get away from, that stereotype," Sir Liam added.

And he has published new official guidance saying that under-15s should drink no alcohol, with under-17s drinking only under supervision.

Legally, parents and carers can give their children alcohol at home from the age of five onwards.

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