Teen drinkers to be targeted at Hong Kong Sevens
Rugby chiefs join forces with support group for second year to tackle alcohol problems at event
Hong Kong Sevens organisers are once again working with a leading youth charity to combat teenage binge drinking at the event, after the success of last year's initial project.
The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union and the Kely Support Group will stress the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption to young fans at the tournament, which starts on Friday at the Hong Kong Stadium.
Binge drinking at the event has been a major worry for organisers in recent years.
Statistics from the Department of Health revealed the 18- to 24-year-old age bracket had the second-highest proportion of binge drinkers. The 17-to-19 age group drank most alcohol among youngsters at last year's Sevens.
While those under the age of 18 cannot legally consume alcohol in restaurants and bars, there is no age limit on the sale of alcoholic beverages outside venues with liquor licences.
Buying alcohol in Hong Kong is easier than elsewhere in the world, as it is sold in convenience stores and supermarkets. Despite this, Chung Tang, executive director of the youth organisation, said last year's project had been very beneficial.
"In 2012, we had over 2,000 touch points with young people," Chung said. "There were very few disturbances."
He was not surprised at the amount of young people drinking alcohol at the Sevens last year.
"This is a huge sporting event and young people want to have fun at it. Some come for the party atmosphere, while others come to watch the rugby.
"But invariably they will take alcohol and we just want to be there for them," he said. "We want to make sure they have a great time, but do it in a safe environment."
There will be three areas in the stadium to cater for teenagers who have had too much to drink or are feeling ill - at the Upper West Stand next to the escalator, the Upper West Concourse and the Main Concourse.
"The Kely Support Group is a perfect partner for us, sharing similar values and an education based approach to empowering youngsters to make informed lifestyle decisions," Brandon Huang, head of community and development for the union, said.