Now experts have advised that parents should talk to their children about alcohol well before they begin experimenting with it.
A drinks industry group has produced a booklet and fact sheet outlining some of the issues and influences involved.
One of the clear aims is to get parents to talk to their children about drink at an early age. Psychologist Dr Mark Morgan advises that it is better to respond positively when children ask about alcohol, rather than avoiding the issue.
The booklet, Alcohol A Guide for Parents, has been produced by MEAS (Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Society), who work to combat alcohol misuse and abuse. MEAS chief executive Fionnuala Sheahan said parents have an important influence on their children's behaviour and attitudes to alcohol, and drinking habits are learned at an early age.
"In order to help change the culture of abuse in Ireland and promote a healthier approach to drinking, parents need to look at their own drinking habits and engage in dialogue about alcohol with their children," she said.
The book was developed in response to recent trends showing a growth in drinking by young people. These have been greatly influenced by teenagers' increased spending power.
* Alcohol A Guide for Parents and the fact sheet are available from MEAS (01 611 4811), or on www.meas.ie, and will be sent to schools and GPs' surgeries.