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Young Britons turn their backs on binge drinking and drug taking culture of their parents' generation, figures show
Government figures show students are drinking lessAcademics point to cultural shift, increasing financial constraints and tougher action to explain decline
18:30 GMT, 9 December 2012
Young Britons are calling time on the binge-drinking culture of their parents' generation.
Government figures show a continued fall in alcohol intake among young people, especially students, over the past decade.
Academics point to a cultural shift, increasing financial constraints and tougher action from the drinks industry as possible explanations for the change in attitudes and behaviour.
Time at the bar: Young Brits are turning their backs on booze culture
The latest Department for Health report shows
just 17 per cent of women, aged 16 to 24, drank more than six units of
alcohol on their heaviest day of drinking, compared to 27 per cent in
There was also a drop for men, with less than a quarter drinking more than eight units compared to 32 per cent in 2005.
The Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use
Among Young People in England report also reveals 12 per cent of 11 to
15-year-olds drank alcohol the week before they were polled in 2011
compared to 26 per cent in 2001.
In 2010, more than half had never
taste alcohol before, compared to 39 per cent in 2001, while 32 per cent
thought it was acceptable to drink, a drop of nearly 10 per cent from 2003.
The proportion of pupils who thought
it was OK to get drunk at least once a week has nearly halved from the 20
per cent recorded in 2003.
Professor Fiona Measham, a criminologist at Durham University, who has been studying drinking patterns for more than 20 years, said young people are clearly shunning the alcohol excesses of previous generations.
She told The Observer: 'From about 2002 onwards, the tide turned. I've seen it in my students and I've seen it when I do my research in pubs and clubs.
'Something is changing, a cultural shift, there is no longer the desire to go out and get completely obliterated.'
Action: Legislation has curtailed happy hours and irresponsible promotions
Prof. Measham, who has advised the
Government on alcohol policy, said the 1990s saw an end to
male-dominated pubs and the industry targeting women caught up in 'Sex And The City-style cosmopolitan drinking'.
The academic, who believes
drug-taking is also in decline, said the latest generation is more responsible but stressed
legislation has curtailed free drinks, happy hours and irresponsible
The drinks industry, which has posted falls in alcopop sales, has highlighted its role in the drop – although it acknowledges anomalies in the national picture, such as in the north east.
Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, which promotes social responsibility in the industry, said producers and retailers have introduce partnership schemes to prevent underage drinking.
He said the schemes are supported by education campaigns and unit awareness information, and added: 'These and other voluntary initiatives are important in helping to develop this changing relationship.'
Prof Measham said fears of debt among students, high unemployment and more sophisticated ID schemes are also having an impact.
A straw poll by the newspaper named Leeds, Birmingham, Warwick and Edinburgh universities among those reporting a drop in student drinking but a rise in memberships for clubs and societies.
Bad reputation: Young people are widely labelled as binge-drinkers