Challenge To Drinks Industry To Help Tackle Young People's Drinking

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Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey has challenged the Drinks Industry to work with his Department and other agencies to tackle the growing problem of young people’s drinking.

Meetings have now been held with representatives from the Alcohol and Drinks Industry, as well as the PSNI and follow the Minister’s announcement of an action plan to deal with young people’s alcohol misuse.

Speaking today, the Minster said: “Young people are continuing to put themselves at serious physical and mental harm from excessive alcohol consumption. They are storing up a life-time of health problems such as liver damage and increased risk of cancer, the emotional and mental consequences of alcohol misuse are considerable. Alcohol is also involved in one-third of suicides and is too often a factor in anti-social behaviour and violence.

“I have now had frank discussions with both the alcohol and drinks industry, and the PSNI, in relation to young people’s drinking. I want to ensure that we continue to drive this forward and the challenge for all of us is to ensure we are taking a tough and effective joined-up approach to this issue.

“We all recognise that the drinks industry, both producers and retailers, can play a key role in helping to address this issue and I intend to have further discussion with this group before the end of the summer.

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“In some cases alcohol is cheaper to buy than a bottle of lemonade. This is totally unacceptable. Government cannot tackle this alone, parents and families must also act responsibly and take responsibility for their children’s drinking.”

Earlier this week, the Minister met with Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland to discuss how the Department could work in partnership with the PSNI, and other key stakeholders, to address young people’s drinking.

ACC McCausland welcomed the meeting, and said: “Underage drinking often leads to criminal damage, assault, and fear of crime for residents in areas subject to this kind of anti-social behaviour. It presents a significant issue to our local communities across Northern Ireland.

“However these issues cannot be resolved through police enforcement alone. This is why we were happy to accept the invitation from the Minister to discuss how a multi-agency approach can be developed.

“We support the development of an action plan and look forward to being part of its delivery.

“In the meantime, the PSNI will also be maintaining a visible presence this summer, working with partners to take a robust approach to tackling underage drinking through our Northern Ireland- wide initiative, Operation SNAPPER.”

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