Teen drink abusers go for leading brands

TEENS abusing alcohol are more likely to buy leading brands such as Budweiser and Smirnoff rather than the cheapest or strongest drinks, according to research.

The co-author of the study, consultant psychiatrist Bobby Smyth, said the findings provide more evidence that alcohol advertising and sponsorship should be “seriously restricted” by law.

Dr Smyth, who runs the Youth Drug and Alcohol Service in Dublin, said they conducted a “snapshot” of alcohol usage among 34 adolescents aged between 14 and 18 who were entering treatment for drug or alcohol abuse.

The survey found the most popular drinks were Budweiser (50%), Smirnoff (27%) and Bulmers (15%).

“What was unexpected and most interesting was the level of brand loyalty,” said Dr Smyth.

“The stereotypical view of heavy drinkers is that they would be drinking Dutch Gold, that kind of thing, but they are drinking the more established brands.”

He said this indicated problem drinkers were not driven by the cheapest or strongest drinks.

“They are drawn to branding and promotion and that’s down to advertising. It is yet more evidence that alcohol advertising and sponsorship needs to be seriously restricted.”

He said the boys consumed 18.5 units of alcohol (seven to eight pints) the last time they drank and the girls 17.5 units.

Safe drinking limits for an entire week are 21 units for men and 14 for women.

Dr Smyth said young people attending the youth service were drinking more than three times as much alcohol as students in Britain.

The survey found that 25 out of the 34 adolescents got their alcohol through off-licences. Six got it through supermarkets and three in pubs.

“I was a bit surprised at the off-licence figure,” said Dr Smyth. “I thought there might be more from supermarkets, but the multiples seem to be relatively strict on age.”

He said a “frightening” finding was that more than 11% of respondents under 18 said their parents bought them alcohol. He said the average age at which participants first drank was 13, compared to 14-15 for the general population.

Smirnoff was the most popular drink the first time around (18%), followed by the WKD alcopop (15%) and Bulmers (12%).

The research found that beer was the favourite drink for boys and vodka for girls.

Drink choice:

First ever drink (current drink)

- Smirnoff: 18% (27%)

- WKD: 15% (3%)

- Bulmers: 12% (15%)

- Budweiser: 9% (50%)

- Huzzar Vodka: 9% (3%)

- Dutch Gold: 6% (6%)

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Email Updates

Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox

More in this Section

Inquiry to examine Michael Noonan's role in Grace scandal

State rents office for €8.2m a year... but it lies idle

Leo Varadkar denies doing deal with Simon Coveney on Fine Gael leadership race

Number of engineering degrees may be reduced


Breaking Stories

PSNI charge teenager with murder of man found lying on the road

Gardaí 'concerned' for teenager missing from his home in Dublin

Govt pledges another €3m for Syrian refugees

Gardaí seize loaded gun and drugs at industrial park in Dublin

Lifestyle

Exploring Ethiopia: Novelties abound in the cradle of mankind on horn of Africa

Sky Matters: Sirius will be visible in the middle of March

How designing spoke guards for her sister's wheelchair became a business for Ailbhe Keane

Restore colour to your home by taking inspiration from nature

More From The Irish Examiner