Young people celebrating their Leaving Cert results should not be targeted by cheap alcohol promotions

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, has called on pubs and nightclubs not to use cheap alcohol promotions to target young people planning on celebrating their Leaving Cert results this week.

“It’s natural that students want to go out, have a good time and celebrate with their friends. This is an important milestone for them and they should enjoy the celebrations,” said Conor Cullen of Alcohol Action Ireland.

“The reality is that for a significant number of young people, their plans to celebrate this week will include drinking and, as a result, they are already being targeted by venues with offers of cheap alcohol, including price promotions based on the number of drinks bought. Promotions and ’drinks deals’ like this are aimed squarely at young people and encourage the type of harmful binge drinking that is such a threat to their health and wellbeing. There can be a high cost for cheap alcohol.

“It is also worth remembering that many of those attending pubs and nightclubs running these types of promotions will be going there having already consumed alcohol, with the extremely cheap alcohol on offer in the off-trade, particularly supermarkets, contributing greatly to the increasing prevalence of ’pre-drinking’ among young Irish people,” said Mr Cullen.

“However, there is nothing to be gained by pointing the finger at young people. When it comes to drinking, they are, in many ways, a product of their environment, and we have created an environment for them that is saturated with alcohol – it is cheap, widely available and they are also exposed to a huge amount of alcohol marketing and advertising, which is a powerful influence on their drinking behaviour.

“All these factors have led to a situation where the Health Research Board recently found that both harmful and dependent drinking in Ireland are highest among the 18-to 24 year-old age group. It is vital if we want to protect and prioritise the health and wellbeing of our young people that we legislate comprehensively to regulate alcohol pricing, availability and marketing, beginning with the full implementation of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill,” said Mr Cullen.

Alcohol Action Ireland is also urging parents to talk openly with their children about their plans to celebrate their Leaving Cert results

“Getting the Leaving Cert results can be an emotional and, for some, a stressful time, particularly for those who may not have done quite as well as they had hoped. If you add alcohol into the mix this can make an already challenging situation even more difficult for young people,” said Mr Cullen.

“We are urging parents to talk openly with their children about what their plans are for the evening and make sure they know all the important details, such as what they will be doing, who they will be with   where they are going and how – and at what times – they plan on getting there and coming home.

“It is also important to let your child know they can call you without fear of recrimination if they feel unsafe or unwell at any point. They need to know that, as parents, while you may not be happy with the fact they may have been drinking, their safety is your priority and that they are to contact you immediately if they are in trouble.”