The decline in risky drinking by Australians continues – dispelling the myth, asserted by some, that we have a growing alcohol crisis in Australia.
Latest data by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) is most welcome but reinforces the importance of ongoing targeted education to high risk groups.
The AIHW 2013 National Drug strategy Household Survey today reported that young people are continuing to delay their first alcoholic drink. The age at which 14 to 24-year-olds first tried alcohol rose from 14.4 to 15.7 years of age between 1998 and 2013.
It reported that overall, fewer young people aged 12 to 17 are drinking alcohol, with the proportion abstaining from alcohol rising from 64 per cent to 72 per cent between 2010 and 2013.
The survey also found that compared to 2010 fewer people in Australia drank alcohol in quantities that exceeded the lifetime risk - from 20% in 2010 to 18.2% in 2013.
The proportion of those who exceeded the single occasion risk guidelines at least once a month also declined significantly from 29% in 2010 to 26% in 2013.
CEO of the Australian Brewers Association, Denita Wawn said: "This data clearly shows that we are heading in the right direction and that the vast majority of Australians drink in moderation.”
"Nevertheless, it is important that the decline in risky drinking is maintained and as such the Brewers Association will continue to work with stakeholders to increase awareness and educate high risk groups about the impact of harmful consumption.”
“The data reinforces our view that population wide policy responses to alcohol misuse, such as calls to ban advertising and sponsorship, are simply not the answer to affect change. Targeted interventions remain the key to reducing irresponsible and harmful alcohol misuse in Australia."