Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Society

'Alcohol and Young People' Conference (2004)


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14 October 2004

The 'Alcohol and Young People' conference was the second in a series of annual conferences hosted by MEAS concerning the topic of alcohol and society.

The average age of beginning to drink in Ireland has reduced to 13 years and the whole ‘timetable’ of drinking (starting with an occasional drink and following with more regular drinking) is now earlier than a generation ago.  Why has this change occurred?  Are Irish teenagers different from other European teenagers, or is the Irish drinking culture different?  The legal purchasing age for alcohol in Ireland is 18, yet it is lawful for a person under 18 to drink alcohol in a private residence ‘in which he/she is present, either as of right or by permission.’  Should parents allow their teenage children to drink alcohol, and if so, in what circumstances and to what extent? What are the most effective strategies to prevent alcohol problems among young people? These were some of the questions addressed by the Conference.

The Conference aims were to:

• Promote an awareness of the context within which underage drinking is occurring, both in Ireland and internationally
• Promote an awareness of the ambiguities surrounding underage drinking in Ireland
• Provide information on the policy and legislative response to underage drinking in Ireland and in other countries
• Encourage informed debate on the issue of underage drinking
• Identify key areas for further debate, analysis, and policy development.