Educate early about alcohol

20th June 2008 at 01:00
I refer to the Scottish Government's document Changing Scotland's relationship with alcohol: a discussion paper on our strategic approach
I refer to the Scottish Government's document Changing Scotland's relationship with alcohol: a discussion paper on our strategic approach.

There is no doubt that Scotland has a major problem regarding its relationship with alcohol; health statistics convey a serious situation in regard to alcohol-induced illnesses and we are all too aware of the mindless anti-social behaviour witnessed in our town and city streets at weekends, again fuelled by alcohol consumption.

While the Government is to be applauded for attempting to deal with the issues, we believe it has hit the wrong target with punitive and discriminatory measures against retailers and has missed an opportunity to identify early intervention and education as the best way forward.

Whether the age for purchasing alcohol is 18 or 21, youngsters so-minded will be able to procure the alcohol they want through elder siblings or other adults buying on their behalf; this proxy purchasing is prevalent, although very difficult to detect and eliminate. Arguably, the increase to 21 will make alcohol even more attractive to those youngsters who want to get "off their faces" through peer pressure in the main.

If the problem is a cultural one, then the answer must lie with education at an early stage in order to advise children about the dangers of alcohol in terms of health and anti-social behaviour and how it should be handled responsibly. This message should be updated over a number of years as part of the education curriculum, involving external experts as well as the police and other enforcement authorities. This approach, coupled with sensible enforcement measures, would have been more appropriate from a Scottish Government keen to deal with the problems they face.

Unfortunately, politics usually generate a knee-jerk reaction rather than a long-term solution.

John Drummond, chief executive, Scottish Grocers Federation, Queensferry Road, Edinburgh.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today