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01/03/2008

Germany: Alcohol Consumption among Minors: an endless Public Health problem

The Ministry of Health published data from the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD) in March 2008. 12,448 pupils in grade nine and ten in seven ‘Länder' were interviewed about their consumption of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs (cannabis, cocaine, etc.) as well as their attitude and their risk assessment towards these psychoactive substances. In regards to the results of this survey, the Federal Drug Commissioner stressed: “The data showed that our efforts in reducing tobacco and drug consumption among the young people were successful, but the level of excessive alcohol consumption which are reached by pupils is alarming.”

The survey especially shows an increase in the consumption of beer by 10 % between 2003 and 2007. 56.4% of pupils drank beer in 2003. In 2007, 66.8% consumed beer regularly. Also, the consumption of spirits increased from 52.6% up to 59.9%. Although the sale of spirits to minors is prohibited by law, approximately 20% of the young people reported that they had bought spirits from grocery shops or supermarkets.

Violence was seen as being the main consequence of pupils' drinking; 21 % of boys reported use of violence under the influence of alcohol. Additionally, alcohol may lead to unprotected sexual intercourse; indeed, 8.4% of the male and female respondents reported unprotected sex under the influence of alcohol.

These results show the deficits of enforcement in Germany. Efficient and effective controls are necessary to improve the protection of minors to alcohol. Besides these, other measures like higher taxes, ban of alcohol sales in petrol stations and bans and restrictions on alcohol advertising would be very effective to reduce alcohol consumption among pupils in Germany.