Young people advised to drink better

A £100 million campaign has been launched today with the aim of advising young people not to mix their drinks too much and how best to cure hangovers.

The Campaign for Better Drinking is intended to run for five years and in upcoming weeks drinkers will begin to see their slogans, such as “beer before licquor makes you sicker” and “never mix the grape and the grain”, adorning beermats, advertising hoardings and signs in pubs and off-licences as the scheme gets rolled out nationwide.

Shepherd-Neame brewery chief executive Peter Ian fully endorses the campaign: “For years many pub regulars have expressed concern over young people’s inability to hold their drink. In a lot of cases they have been unaware of even the most basic principles surrounding alcohol consumption, such as lining your stomach before you go out and eating a fried breakfast to alleviate a hangover.

“I think a part of the problem is that they have it all too easy nowadays. I remember as a kid if I wanted to get drunk I would end up down the park with my mates drinking the most disgusting ciders out of a 3-litre brown plastic bottle. They don’t have to suffer like the people of my generation did. An important lesson of alcohol appreciation is to be able to drink substances that make you wince for a few seconds afterwards. You don’t get that anymore with the sorts of drinks available now.”

Health Secretary Andy Burnham said the country faced an insurmountable task to get young people drinking properly again: “Let us be under no illusion over the enormity of the problem of young people’s inherent disrespect of alcohol. We need to affect attitudes at a grass-roots level and start from the bottom up if we are to fully restore youngsters to a genuine appreciation of alcohol. We need to start teaching in schools that inebriation is a privilege, not a right. Drunkenness has to be earned.

He added: “The first time I got drunk was when I was 11 and I stole some sherry from my parents’ drinks cabinet. I winced like I was shitting molten lava as I swigged from the bottle and I only managed to down half of it as the taste was just too foul. The room was spinning as I fell asleep and I woke up an hour later blanketed in my own sick. I had to wash my bedclothes, scrub the wall and fill the bottle back up with water – all without my mum and dad finding out. I learnt an important life lesson that day and I felt ashamed for weeks afterwards. I vowed never to underestimate alcohol again and from that point on I handled my drink a lot better.”

Commander Simon O’Brien from the Association of Chief Police Officers said there needed to be a change in drinking culture back to the days when it was seen as a sign of weakness to be unable to handle drink: “The idea of this campaign is to educate young people and to get back to the basics of simple, enjoyable British pub drinking. When I pick someone out of the gutter on a Friday night I want it to be because they’ve had 12 pints of Spitfire or Carling, not because of a few bottles of blue WKD and a couple of shots of Sambuca.”

The campaign is expected to kick off later this afternoon.

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