What you’re getting wrong about kids and drinking (and I’m a wine merchant)

My first drink was when I was just 14 years old. It was a small bottle of warm Babycham on New Year’s Eve at my neighbours’ house – and it made me sick. I never touched Babycham again. What was yours?

Chances are, if you’re British, you’ll have an answer without having to think about it: a fond (or slightly queasy) recollection of that first night blind drunk; an embarrassing spectacle where you vomited or fell over or had to be put to bed by your parents; a brand you can never touch again because of the distant nausea that accompanies the memory. That’s because we have an ingrained culture of drinking – and not in a way we should be proud of. The rest of the world brands us “Boozy Brits” for a reason.

And now, research published by the World Health Organisation has shown that the UK has the worst rate of child alcohol abuse worldwide. There are some staggering figures: more than half of British children have drunk alcohol by the age of 13. The WHO also examined data from more than 280,000 children from 44 countries aged 11, 13 and 15 who were asked about their use of cigarettes, vapes and alcohol. We came out at the top of the leaderboard for underage drinking and vaping, with girls aged 13 and 15 in the UK doing it significantly more than boys.


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