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Alcohol education helps youth make informed choices

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Alcohol education helps youth make informed choices

by Gabi Khumalo
11 Jun 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

Being informed about the effects of alcohol helps individuals make informed, responsible choices regarding drinking.

Addressing members of the National Press Club on Tuesday, Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol (ARA) spokesperson Adrian Botha said the industry strongly supports education surrounding alcohol and its consumption.

He welcomed participation from government, public health organisations and communities in promoting educational programmes and campaigns.

Broad programs such as responsibility advertising campaigns are effective in altering drink-drive behaviour.

"There are many school-based programs that teach at-risk youth the effects of intoxication and long-term effects of alcohol abuse.

"Many alcohol beverage producers have developed expert-designed guides that give parents strategies for talking with their children about drinking," Mr Botha said.

ARA is registered as a non-profit organisation with the Department of Social Development and focuses on the prevention of the negative consequences of alcohol abuse.

The primary targets for its interventions include two broad groups, young people and vulnerable adults who are most at risk of suffering the negative consequences of alcohol abuse and misuse.

In his presentation on measures by ARA to promote responsible alcohol use, Mr Botha said that government, which includes public health organisations, and the alcohol beverage industry agree that there is much more to do in the fight against the irresponsible consumption of alcohol beverages.

"We believe there is much common ground among these various stakeholders that can form the basis of an effective long-term partnership.

"Targeted interventions hold great promise in educating consumers and changing behaviours that harm individuals and society at large, while at the same time preserving the social, economic and public health benefits associated with responsible consumption of commercial alcohol beverages," he said.

Two weeks ago, ARA launched a book entitled Teenagers and Alcohol, a practical guide for parents wishing to talk to their children about alcohol related issues such as the harmful consequences of underage drinking.

In cooperation with the support unit at Bishops Preparatory School and leading medical professionals, psychologists and educators, ARA funded the publication of a guide, which was introduced as a pilot project into participating schools in Cape Town.

The information contained in the book will not only educate people to make informed decisions about their own use of alcohol, but it will empower parents to set appropriate limits and boundaries for their children in terms of alcohol use.

Some of the schools request parents to sign an agreement before handing over the guide.

"We are keen to see this booklet in as many homes as possible, it is timeous as a number of incidents have brought alcohol abuse into the national consciousness," Mr Botha said.

He added that it was expected that a number of people and organisations may be interested to use the booklet because of the quality of content and offers a practical manner to approach the problem of under-age drinking in particular.

The schools participating in the project include St Cyprians, Pinelands, St Georges, St Josephs, Rhodes, Westerford, Rustenberg, SACS, Rondebosch, Groote Schuur, Wynberg Boys, San Souci, Springfield, Herschel, Reddam, Bergvliet, Wynberg Girls, Plumstead and International School. - BuaNews

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