NEW research linking the availability of alcohol to the number of underage drinkers has been welcomed by a North East pressure group.
A study by Alcohol Concern found there was one under-18-year-old per 100,000 people admitted to hospital due to drinking for every two off-licences per 100,000.
Statistical analysis by Dr Nikki Coghill at the University of West of England, found a “moderate but statistically significant relationship” between the figures across England.
Colin Shevills, director of North East alcohol awareness group Balance, said: “Alcohol’s widespread availability, along with increased affordability and heavy promotion, has created an environment where consuming copious amounts of alcohol is viewed as normal and acceptable.
“This is particularly dangerous for children and young people – encouraging them to drink earlier and drink more.
“In the North East, we have the highest rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions for under-18s in the country. It’s not surprising that we also have some of the highest off-licence densities in England.
“Although more young people are choosing not to drink, there are still some that do and they are drinking too much. We need to support them and help them make the right choices – and increased availability is not helping the issue.
“Government needs to do more to lower the impact alcohol is having across the region.”