As the new Public Health (Alcohol) Bill passes initial stages through the Seanad, ongoing concern over levels of alcohol consumption, particularly binge drinking levels during the festive season (e.g. 12 pubs of Christmas tradition) in Ireland once again comes to the fore: The impact on personal health, how it can act as a stimulant to increased family turmoil and/or possible financial woes are topics of significance for our society to discuss - our avoidance of a necessary conversation on the country's association with alcohol must come to a head;
A recent study highlights that 1 in 6 parents in the UK allow their 14 year old child to have alcohol. Should this be a cause of concern? It is in a familial social setting, rather than a binge atmosphere with their peers. For the French "the tradition of bringing children up to be familiar and – so goes the logic – restrained with alcohol remains strong". Although change in France is afoot, with sale of alcohol to under 18's banned, advice to pregnant mothers advises abstinence, small steps for the benefit of society.
The National Institute for Health Prevention and Education in the UK warned in a recent campaign that "premature introduction to alcohol, and excessive consumption during adolescence, can add to the risk of problematic [drinking] later on"; young individuals who consume alcohol do so with an underdeveloped brain and not fully matured body.
The British Medical Journal highlighted that a 7 fold increase in the size of wine glasses since the first wine glass in 1700's was recorded; largest increase in glass size was from 1990's to present day.
Before consuming, think about your personal health/safety, what impacts your drinking may have on the festive season for those around you and be informed of the dangers of over-consumption.
Have a health-consciously enjoyable Christmas!