Education and responsible retailing are contributing to a fall in underaged drinking, latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures reveal.
According to the ONS Statistics on Alcohol for England, 45% of pupils said they had drunk alcohol at least once in 2010 compared to 51% the year before.
In addition, 13% of secondary school pupils aged 11 to 15 reported drinking alcohol in the week prior to interview compared with 18% of pupils in 2009, and 26% in 2008.
Young people’s attitudes to alcohol are also changing. There has been a decline in recent years in the proportion of pupils who think that drinking is acceptable for someone of their age. In 2010 32% of pupils thought it was okay for someone of their age to drink once a week, compared to 46% in 2003.
Responding to the figures, Chris Sorek, chief executive of alcohol education charity Drinkaware, said: “Today’s research reveals a positive shift in the nation’s drinking behaviour among the younger generation of under-25s.”
There has also been a long-term downward trend in the proportion of adults who reported drinking in the week prior to interview. In 1998 75% of men and 59% of women drank in the week prior to interview compared to 68% of men and 54% of women in 2010.
The survey also reveals that while the volume of alcohol purchased for consumption outside of the home has declined sharply, in-home consumption has soared.
In 2010, individuals purchased 762 ml per person for in-home consumption per week, a 45% increase since 1992. Purchases of cider, perry and wine showed the largest increases between 1992 and 2010.