Hong Kong universities urged to ban alcohol sales on campus

Tung Wah poll reveals one in five students binge drink, and many don't realise the harmful effects

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 August, 2014, 4:22am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 August, 2014, 5:10am

A hospital group has called for a ban on the sale of alcohol on campuses after its study showed that a fifth of university students had engaged in binge drinking but only 1 per cent admitted they had a drinking problem.

Making the call, the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals said students tended to be oblivious to the harmful effects of alcohol.

"[They] seem to have little vigilance in regard to alcohol consumption, thus they binge drink more often than ordinary people," the hospital group's community services secretary, Ivan Yiu Tze-leung, said.

The group's "Stay Sober, Stay Free" alcohol-addiction treatment project asked 469 university students aged 18 to 25 about their drinking habits before the summer break this year.

About 20 per cent of the respondents - mostly male - said they had "binge drunk" in the previous month, while almost two-thirds said they had consumed some alcohol in that time.

Binge drinking, according to the Department of Health, means consuming five or more glasses or cans of alcoholic drinks in a row.

Project supervisor Brenda Chung Yin-ting said binge drinking was a serious problem, but just 1 per cent of respondents admitted they might have a problem.

The survey also found that just over 40 per cent of students received their first taste of alcohol from their parents.

Yiu said parents tended to give their children drinks to get them used to alcohol.

But he strongly advised against it and said parents should be educated more about the harm of alcohol consumption.

Chung said the project team wanted to "create an alcohol-free environment for university students" in which "no alcoholic beverages are sold on campuses".

With this in mind, the team has been working closely with City University and Chinese University to educate students about the harmful effects of alcohol.

A University of Science and Technology student questioned the ban. "We should be able to monitor ourselves as we are already adults, and this might not be the most effective way to discourage university students from drinking," said business student Eric Chan Pak-chun.

To help prevent alcohol addiction among youngsters, the project team has also created an iPhone and iPad application called "eBACCalc", which estimates a person's blood-alcohol content after they input the amount of alcohol they have drunk.