Irish effort to temper high spirits

October 19, 2001

Drunkenness among students in Ireland has risen substantially above the European Union average in the past year, a conference in Dublin was told last week.

Beer is still the most popular drink, but spirit consumption is higher than in many other countries, said Bruce Ritson of the Alcohol Problem Service at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. He spoke the day after the launch of a document that recognises the problem's urgency.

Framework for Developing a College Alcohol Policy was prepared by a working party drawn from Ireland's seven universities and 13 institutes of technology. Roger Downer, president of the University of Limerick, said the objective was to encourage responsible drinking and to cut excessive alcohol promotion.

The document proposes that alcohol policies should include: control of marketing, promotions and sponsorship; limiting risk in the drinking environment; more awareness of risks and education; provision of campus support services; and encouragement of alternatives and choice.

Micheal Martin, the Irish minister for health, said misuse of alcohol played its part in "student attrition". For some time, college authorities have been concerned about alcohol promotion on campus, high-risk drinking by students and the impact of drinking on student academic achievement and student personal problems.

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