I was one of those who strongly opposed the recent attempt to increase the alcohol purchase age from 18 to 20. A hysteria had been generated about drinking in NZ, and especially youth drinking – and many blamed the change in the purchase age in 1999.
The reality is that a number of surveys had shown that youth drinking had declined, not increased, since then. Once these facts got out to MPs, I think it helped the majority of them make the sensible decision not to scapegoat 18 and 19 year olds.
One of the significant pieces of research is a study done by Auckland University every few years of almost 10,000 secondary students. Their 2000 and 2007 studies showed a significant decline in youth drinking during that period.
Well last week the 2012 study came out, and the data was fascinating. It showed beyond any doubt that there had been significant drops in the number of school students who drink, and who drink regularly or binge, since 2000.
That is a seismic shift. It totally blows away the myths about youth drinking having got far worse, based on anecdotal stories and media horror stories.
- The proportion of students who have drunk alcohol has dropped 25%, or around a third from 2000.
- The proportion of students who are current drinkers has dropped 25%, just over a third from 2000
- The proportion of students who drink regularly (weekly) has dropped 9%, just over one half from 2000
- The proportion of students who have binge drinked (five or more in a session) in the last month has dropped 18%, or just under a half from 2000
Also of interest:
- The proportion of students who have driven after drinking has fallen from 7.8% to 3.9% – a drop of a half.
- The proportion of students who have been in a car with a driver who has been drinking has fallen from 27.8% to 18.4% – a drop of one third.
On the non alcohol side:
- The proportion of students who have smoked cannabis dropped from 38.2% to 23.0%
- The proportion of students who smoke tobacco weekly dropped from 6.7% to 3.2%
- The proportion of students who have had sex dropped from 31.3% to 24.4%