Alcohol consumption amongst underage persons in the world has become a global health and safety concern. The resultant effect of this habit is evident in the incessant number of various auto accidents, rape, street /club fight, amongst others caused by over-consumption amongst underage persons as seen today.
What researchers say about underage consumption of alcohol
Children under 18 are said to be experimenting with alcohol at their earlier ages than ever before. A national survey found that slightly more than half of young adults in the U.S. between the ages of 12 and 20 have consumed alcohol at least once.
Some researchers speculate that teens are more vulnerable to addiction because the pleasure area of the brain matures before the part of the brain responsible for impulse control and executive decision making. In other words, teenagers’ capacity for pleasure reaches adult proportions well before their capacity for sound decision making does.
The prevalent use of alcohol among teens and young adults in US is alarming for a number of reasons:
• Alcohol is a major factor in fatal automobile crashes
About one-third of drivers ages 17 to 24 who died in a car crash in 2009 had a blood alcohol level that was over the legal limit.
• Drinking may have lasting health effects
Some researchers believe that heavy drinking at this age, when the brain is still developing, may cause lasting impairments in brain functions such as memory, coordination, and motor skills—at least among susceptible individuals.
• Drinking can lead to sexual assaults and rape
Each year, approximately 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
Coming down home, in Nigeria, the case is no different. With the rising number of operators of alcohol drinking clubs and bars on every nook and cranny with no age restriction as to those who patronize them is a cause for concern.
Health researchers have posited that the effect of alcohol consumption on children under 18 years is more adverse than that of an adult.
Ongoing campaign against underage drinking in Nigeria
In a bid to nip the situation in the bud and prove to be a socially responsible alcohol brewer, Guinness Nigeria, recently launched a campaign to discourage the consumption of alcoholic drinks by Nigerians below the age of 18 years of age.
The company expressed commitment to this initiative when it signed a memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with four supermarket chain stores in Lagos as part of the company’s official kicking of its Age Verification Programme (AVP).The supermarket chains are Addide Stores, Just Rite Superstores, SPAR Artee Group and Grocery Bazaar Ltd.
Surprisingly, one would have expected that a company whose latest alcoholic/herbal brand – ‘Orijin’ is enjoying good publicity across the spectrum of media platforms and gaining acceptance by youths who visit clubs and bars to consume them would be silent on campaigns such as this. However, on the contrary, it has led other alcoholic producers to openly steer a campaign that bother on the safety of youths.
According to the brewing giant, the campaign against underage drinking was borne out of the company’s commitment to reduce access to alcohol by underage people.
In October 2012, Diageo, the parent company of Guinness Nigeria, was one of the 13 leading global producers of wine, beer, and spirits that launched new commitments to reduce harmful drinking as a means of supporting member states to implement the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global strategy of reducing harmful use of Alcohol. One of the commitments is – ‘’reducing underage drinking’’.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Managing Director of Guinness Nigeria, Mr. Soren Lauridsen, described underage drinking as a global issue that required concerted efforts to tackle.
He said that Guinness has taken a bold and proactive step to combat its spread in Nigeria through the Age Verification Programme (AVP).
Explaining further on the initiative, he said that the Age Verification Programme is to control the sale of Alcohol to minors or underage persons that is, those under 18 years of age.
“Alcohol is strictly for adults, and as we say in our company children and alcohol do not mix,” he said.
Lauridsen said that the company has started taking the campaign to retail outlets, which include bars where alcohol is consumed and in no time extend it to other platforms.