Program teaches about blight of juvenile drinking
When 16-year-old highschool student Xu Lidong had his birthday party one Saturday in early November, friends tried to persuade him to celebrate with a glass of liquor. But he hesitated a little, then decided not to indulge — telling his pals and fa mily that he hadn’t hit the right age to try alcohol, a lesson well learned from participating in a responsible drinking awareness program.
The programs which are part of the 2016 National Responsible Drinking Awareness Week, initiated nationwide by the China Alcoholic Drinks Association (CADA) from late October, have brought the issue of juvenile drinking under the spotlight.
“A survey that polled some 30,000 middle school and high school students across China last year found that more than 51.1 percent of respondents said they had consumed alcoholic drinks and some 15 percent said they had been intoxicated at least once,” said Hu Xiaoqi, director of students’ nutrition and healthcare department of China Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Among those who consumed alcoholic drinks as juveniles, some 28.4 percent drank before they reached age of 10 and some 22.9 percent said they drank before the age of 13, which shows that awareness for responsible drinking among juveniles is in dire need of improvement.”
Hu said detailed plans for implementation of regulations forbidding juveniles to drink and forbidding the sale of alcoholic drinks to j uveniles were yet to be completed, so that they and their families — as well as distributors of alcoholic drinks — must all play their part in the fight against young drinking.
The problem has raised deep concerns among alcoholic drinks market players in recent years and the CADA is working hard to tackle the issue, said Wang Yancai, president of CADA.
In July 2015, CADA created the CADA Alcohol & Social Aspects Organization (China SAO) in cooperation with major companies in the industry to drive the sustainable and healthy development of the alcoholic drinks i ndustry, reinforce social responsibility and enhance consumer education and promote a better understanding of responsible drinking.
Daniel Chang, chairman
It takes many people to make sure that juveniles don’t drink.” Cheng Xianzhi, a Shanghaibased high school teacher and volunteer advocating no drinking before age 18
of the Foreign Spirits Producers Association, said that responsible drinking is indicative of consumers’ increasingly modern mindsets and lifestyles. He said that irresponsible drinking not only had a negative impact on society, but also led to incorrect perceptions of alcohol.
“There has been an increasing number of campaigns and programs aiming to raise awareness of the problems caused by excessive drinking and drink driving, but juveniles’ drinking remains an issue that is not taken seriously enough,” Chang said.
“We want to take advantage of ‘National Responsible Drinking Awareness Week’ to motivate our members and collaborate with various parties in the industry to build a new responsible drinking ecosystem in the industry.”
The main event of this year’s “National Responsible Drinking Awareness Week” takes place in Beijing, with parallel sessions being held i n Shanghai, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Nanjing, Chengdu, Wuhan, Jinan, Zhengzhou, Hefei, Guiyang and Foshan.
Major producers, distributors and l ocal alcoholic associations across the country will launch campaigns in hundreds of cities to discourage juveniles from taking alcoholic drinks.
“It takes many people to make sure that j uveniles don’t drink. First, parents and families should never encourage young people to drink — as some did before as a way to carry on a tradition of a fa mily with a drinking culture,” said Cheng Xianzhi, a Shanghaibased high school teacher and volunteer advocating drinking after age of 18.
“Second, distributors should regulate themselves and not sell alcohol to j uveniles. Third, j uveniles need to understand the harm that consuming alcoholic drinks does at too young an age and reject drinking before the age of 18.”