AUSTRALIA'S brewers, ramping up their campaign against government-mandated warnings on alcohol products, have seized on the nation's latest and largest survey of teenagers' drinking habits to declare that it ''dispels the myth that there is an alcohol crisis in Australia''.
The 2011 Australian Secondary Students' Alcohol and Drug survey of nearly 25,000 students, prepared for the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, found alcohol consumption among students aged 12 to 17 had continued to fall since 2005.
Binge drinking - defined as more than four drinks in a single session in the previous seven days - had dropped from 23 per cent of students aged 16 and 17 in 2005 to 16 per cent in 2011, after levelling out at 18 per cent in 2008.
Among those aged 12 to 15, binge drinking had halved from 6 per cent in 2005 to 3 per cent in 2011. Drinking anything at all in the previous seven days had also halved among the younger group - from 22 per cent to 11 per cent.
However, the survey, which was released in December, found that 51 per cent of students in the age group for whom alcohol consumption is illegal had drunk alcohol in the previous 12 months.
The director of the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth, Mike Daube, said that while there had been an increase in the number of young people drinking more responsibly, the teens who did drink were starting younger and displaying more risky behaviour.
But the Brewers Association, one of the nation's alcohol industry groups, said the survey showed the misuse of alcohol among the young was declining.
with Nicky Phillips