DoH says under-15s should not drink alcohol

Young people should not drink any alcohol until they are 15 and after that only in a supervised environment, new DoH guidance says.

Sir Liam said that DoH guidance on alcohol fills a 'vacuum' for recommendations on alcohol for young people

England's chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson, who has written the guidance, said there was no evidence that introducing children to alcohol at an early age reduced problems in later life.

Children and their parents should be advised that an alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option, he said.

However, if children drink alcohol, it should not be until at least the age of 15.

If young people aged 15 to 17 do consume alcohol, it should always he with the guidance of a parent or carer or in a supervised environment, he said.

Sir Liam also stressed 'the important role' GPs play in delivering brief interventions. Evidence shows that such work can help a great deal in helping adults who have alcohol problems, he said.

He said the new guidance would fill a 'vacuum' for recommendations on alcohol for children and young people. 'Too often childhood is robbed of its clear-eyed innocence and replaced by a befuddled futility that comes with the regular consumption of dirt cheap alcohol,' he said. 'So we're trying to do something about this and to fill that vacuum and that is what this guidance is about.'

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