Young New Zealand teens still drinking at 'hazardous levels'

  • 22/11/2017
Over half have drunk alcohol in the past year, despite being under the legal age.
Over half have drunk alcohol in the past year, despite being under the legal age. Photo credit: Getty

Fewer young people aged 18-24 are binge drinking but younger teens are still having a tipple, new figures show.

Ministry of Health numbers highlight that 56.3 percent of Kiwi 15-17-year-olds have drunk alcohol in the past year, and 7.6 percent (15,000) are drinking at "hazardous levels".

The 18-24-year-old age group is showing a decline in binge drinking - dropping from 37.1 percent of those surveyed in 2015/16 to 32.9 percent in 2016/17, a decline of 19,000 young people.

Matt Claridge, chief executive of the Tomorrow Project that leads the Cheers! responsible drinking campaign, says parents have the biggest impact on their teenagers' drinking habits and it's vital they take the lead, especially heading into the post-exam and holiday seasons.

"This [15-17 year olds] is a critical group of New Zealanders who we know are drinking alcohol despite being under the legal drinking age," he said.

"Our research shows that parents are still the biggest influencers on their children's drinking behaviour and many are falling short when it comes to leading good behaviour and openly discussing rules and expectations."

Mr Claridge said it was great to see the dropping in binge drinking among 18-24-year-olds, but New Zealand had a way to go to become a nation of responsible drinkers.

"The big issue is why we drink the way we do. We can change that by learning more about standard drinks and how to drink better."