Responsible drinking programmes
supported by European spirits producers

• “Alcohol: what's the attraction?”
COUNTRY United Kingdom
TIMING 2009 > 2009
Underage drinking


  • The Drinkaware Trust


  • The Guardian (National UK newspaper)


  • To gather information from the target groups, in order to build effective targeted interventions, thus change risky drinking behaviour.
  • To discover what motivates teenagers to start drinking, binge drink, and what parents, professionals and teenagers can do to address and challenge those motivations.


  • Drinkaware partnered with The Guardian newspaper to explore issues around young people parents and alcohol. Parents, professionals and young people themselves were challenged to define what makes alcohol so appealing, as well as asking them what they thought could be done to improve the UK’s alcohol culture. This was carried out via: 
    • Street survey:
      • 16-17 year olds and parents of 10-17 year olds were interviewed via an 8 minute self completed survey conducted on the street throughout the UK between 21 February 2009 and 13 March 2009. Questions such as "is getting drunk a rite of passage" and "should parents educate children about alcohol?" were asked.
      • Professionals working with children and young people across the UK filled out an 8 minute survey (via email) from 6 March 2009 to 13 March 2009. The survey asked questions such as "What kinds of pressures do teenagers you work with face?" and "Do you feel you have enough support in delivering alcohol education to teenagers?"
    • Debate:
      • A roundtable debate was held in April to provide an opportunity for key thinkers from Government, industry, health, social marketing, and youth and parenting organisations to explore the outcomes of the survey and to discuss what kind of drinking culture was need for a healthy future. Questions such as "Alcohol and pupils: what's the attraction?", "Is it realistic to expect parents to supervise 15-17 year olds when they drink?" and "How is the issue of pupils and alcohol treated in society?" were asked.
      • A second roundtable was held in May with 16-17 year olds from a range of backgrounds to discuss issues around alcohol. Alison Benjamin, editor of the Guardian Society section and Radio 1 DJ Nihal Arthanayake chaired the discussion. Questions such as "What attracts teenagers to alcohol?", "What do teenagers think about the alcohol guidance that medical experts and the Government put out for under 18s?", "Do teenagers think that the media portrays them fairly when it comes to alcohol?" and "Why do teenagers drink? were asked.  
  • More information on the survey and roundtable debate can be found on the Drinkaware and the Guardian websites, as well as further street interview clips with parents and teenagers on the subject.


  • ICM Research surveyed a representative sample of:
    • 53 teenagers aged 16-17 years.
    • 542 with parents of children aged 10-17.
    • 337 professionals (14% teacher, 15% youth worker, 15% health professional, 16% social care, 40% other).
  • The professional microsite and parents microsite were launched in November 2009 and are based on the feedback from the survey and roundtable.
  • "The Ultimate day" competition for 16-17 year olds was ran in July 2009 as a result of the survey findings that teenagers drank for something to do.


  • The ICM survey showed that:
    • 25 % of teenagers drank for something to do and over 60% because it was part of "being young and socialising".
    • On average young people had their first drink at 13.4 years and were 14.2 when they first got drunk.
    • 71% drank once a week or more.
    • Teenagers are less concerned about getting drunk (15%), than they are about having unsafe sex (45%), taking recreational drugs (44%) and not getting qualifications (21%).
    • 59 % of professionals working with under-18s didn't have the support and information they needed to provide education about alcohol.
    • 75% of professionals believed it was parents who should be the most responsible for delivering messages about alcohol to children and young people.
    • 40% of parents said they would proactively teach their children about alcohol and thought the right age to do so was 14.5 years.
    • 25% of parents surveyed would like more information on alcohol for pupils in schools.
  • The Young People Roundtable debate showed:
    • That young drink for the same reasons as their parents and other adults.
    • That more than a third would prefer to listen to their parents about drinking alcohol (other options offered included friends (22%), older siblings (3%), teachers (3%)).
    • All felt that the media projected an exaggerated image of teenagers getting drunk at weekends as those that grabbed media attention were in the minority.
  • Further results of the survey and rountable debate can be found on the Drinkaware website.
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