STAP demands First Chamber of Parliament a quick consideration of the licensing act

12 September 2011

Update of figures about alcohol-use with youngsters should convince the First Chamber of Parliament.

On Tuesday, September, 13, the First Chamber of Parliament will make a decision about the treatment of the proposal change of the Alcohol Licensing and Catering Act. This act amongst others enables the municipalities to tackle the easy availability of alcohol for youngsters in supermarkets, bars and sport-canteens. Municipalities get amongst other things the responsibility for the enforcement of the age-limits for alcohol-supply. In a letter to the Permanent Commission VWS (health, welfare and sport) of the First Chamber of Parliament, the Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy (STAP) emphasizes the great importance of a quick introduction of the law. Wim van Dalen, director of the institute: “The Netherlands has nearly half a million heavy drinkers under 30 years of age (CBS; 2011). Municipalities can take responsibility for tackling of this problem; effective enforcement is the key-word”.

The Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy is sending today to the members of the Chamber commission the following update of the figures about youngsters and alcohol:

7 hard facts about alcohol and youngsters 2011

1. Children are beginning too young and are drinking too much.
- Dutch children are beginning on an average between 12th and 13th year to drink alcohol. Girls (12,8 years), somewhat later than boys (12,4 years).
- 10% of the 12 year olds say that recently they have been drinking. Of that group 56% drink, every month, a minimum of 5 glasses each time.
- 39 % of the 14 years old say that recently they have been drinking. Of this group 58% drink every month a minimum of 5 glasses each time.
- Of the 16 years old 71% says only recently having been drinking. Of this group 77% drink every month a minimum of 5 glasses each time.

2. Drinking behaviour of 15-plus years is far too high; the number of children of 12-14 years drinking has fallen.
Compared with figures from 2003 now fewer children of 12 – 14 years are drinking alcohol.
In 2003, 71% of the children of 12 years had ever drunk alcohol. In 2009 this was 41%. The figures concerning children and youngsters of 15 years and older have hardly changed. For all ages it appears that as soon as youngsters drink, they often drink too much. Apparently it is a question of either you don’t drink or you drink too much.

3. Drinking too much and too often starts with many young children from their 15th year.
The so-called binge drinking (drinking a lot within a short time) starts at 15 years old. Over a quarter of the 15 year olds (27%) who have been drinking recently, drink 5 – 10 glasses every week; another quarter (26%) drink 10 glasses or more each week. The legal age for buying alcohol in the Netherlands of 16 years is probably one of the causes of this (after your 16th birthday you can go for it!)

4. Dutch youngsters score high in Europe.
The 15 and 16 year old Dutch youngsters drink relatively frequently compared with European contemporaries. They are in second place, behind leader Austria; 24% of these Dutch youngsters have been drinking alcohol on more than 10 occasions in the last month. The European average is 10%. Analysis of the European data (ESPAD, 2007) shows that only youngsters (of 15 and 16 years old) in Denmark, Austria, England and the Czech Republic drink more and more often than their Dutch contemporaries.

5. Alcohol-poisoning in youngsters increases since 2007.
In 2010, 684 youngsters were admitted to the emergency department of a hospital after drinking too much alcohol; in 2007 there were 297; in 2008: 337 and in 2009: 500. What is striking is that mostly common autochthonous youngsters are involved. The average age of these “coma-drinkers” is a little over the 15 years.

6. Serious and lasting health damage is inevitable.
- Exposure to alcohol during the youth can lead to memory, learning and concentration-problems; brains that are developing (until the 23rd year) are the most vulnerable.
- Youngsters who have begun drinking before their 15th year run four times the risk of alcohol-addiction as youngsters who start in their 21 st year.
- With girls and young women particularly, the risk of development of breast cancer is alarming. Research has shown that the more and the more often young women use alcohol during adolescence, the greater is the chance of benign chest problems. Benign chest problems are an important forecaster for breast cancer.
- The younger the teen-agers starts with alcohol use the greater is the chance that they willalso start smoking or start using other drugs.

7. Alcohol-related accidents.
The Dutch Foundation ‘Consumer and Safety’ annually counts 24.000 alcohol-related accidents with youngsters between 10 and 25 years of age at emergency departments. This is nearly 10% of all accidents or violence among youngsters of this age.
Young men of 18 to 24 year in 2002 composed 23% of the seriously wounded and deaths from traffic accidents caused by alcohol, while this group only constitute 4% of the total Dutch population.

-Factsheet Alcoholgebruik door Nederlandse jongeren. Utrecht, STAP, 2011.
-Factsheet Alcohol: Gezondheidsrisico's voor kinderen en adolescenten. Utrecht, STAP, 2011.
-CBS, 2011.
-ESPAD 2003 en 2007, ESPAD, Stockholm,, 2009
-Resultaten Peilstationonderzoek Trimbos-onderzoek (2008); persoonlijke communicatie onderzoeker Karin Monshouwer.

For more information:
Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy (STAP)
Mr. Ir. W.E. van Dalen, director
T 030-6565041 / 06-53295544


Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy STAP
P.O. Box 9769
3506 GT Utrecht
The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)30-6565041
F: +31 (0)30-6565043