Underage alcohol sales in UK pubs hit record low

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

ID check: NHS Digital and Ipsos Mori survey results vindicate preventative measures such as Challenge 25.
ID check: NHS Digital and Ipsos Mori survey results vindicate preventative measures such as Challenge 25.

Related tags Underage alcohol sales Underage sales Alcoholic beverage Public house Uk

A survey of more than 12,000 schoolchildren has revealed that the number of underage alcohol purchases taking place in the UK’s pubs is at an all-time low.

The NHS Digital and Ipsos Mori study revealed that only 5% of the children who claimed to have purchased alcohol in the last month did so from pubs or bars.

This represents the figure's first decrease since 2008, when 6% of respondents had purchased alcohol from pubs while underage, and a halving of successful alcohol purchases in pubs by those underage since 1996.

Using a sample size of 12,051 UK school pupils between the ages of 11 and 15, the survey was conducted under exam conditions at 177 schools across the country. It also shows that the number of pupils within the age group in question, who reported having attempted to buy alcohol, is now at a record low.

"Huge effort"

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association commented: “These positive figures reflect the huge effort that goes into preventing underage sales, in both the on and off-trade. At the BBPA, we continue to support Challenge 21 and Challenge 25 campaigns, and posters can be downloaded free from our website.”

The news comes against the backdrop of declining alcohol consumption in the UK, especially among the young. NHS Digital also found that the number of 11 to 15-year-olds who’ve never tried alcohol now stands at 44%, while the number of alcohol-specific hospital admissions among under 18s has fallen by 46% in the last decade.

Paying dividends

John Timothy, Chief Executive of The Portman Group, commented: “Drinks producers and retailers have made it a priority to clamp down on underage sales and it is great to see that their actions appear to be paying dividends, with alcohol becoming increasingly less accessible to children via the on and off-trade.

“They have introduced strict enforcement on underage sales, robust ID schemes and pioneered Community Alcohol Partnerships, Pubwatch and Best Bar None. The Portman Group’s codes of practice also ensure that alcohol marketing is not targeted at, or appealing to children.”

Survey data revealed that the most common source of alcohol for 11 to 15-year-olds was their parents, with 59% of respondents who drank stating that they had done so with their parents.

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