As more teenagers indulge in binge drinking, doctors are calling for stricter control on sales of alcohol in shops.
The prevalence of binge drinking is high among younger people, the Academy of Medicine said at a news conference on drinking yesterday. It cited statistics showing that of those between the ages of 18 and 24 who reported drinking, 7.4 per cent were binge drinkers.
The highest proportion of binge drinkers was found among drinkers aged 25 to 34; 15.6 per cent of them went on binges.
The data came from the 'Action Plan to Reduce Alcohol-related Harm in Hong Kong', published by the Health Department last year.
Binge drinking, the action plan states, refers to the intake of five or more alcoholic beverages within two hours on a given occasion. That is equivalent to an average of 62.5 grams of pure alcohol consumed.
With no restrictions on alcohol at supermarkets and other retailers, teenagers can easily buy alcoholic beverages, Dr Mak Sin-ping, president of the Hong Kong College of Community Medicine, said.
She said advertisements and promotional campaigns may also lure teenagers to buy alcohol.
Mak said the government could follow other countries in restricting the sale of alcohol by extending the liquor-licensing system to alcohol retailers. The government should also conduct more surveys to determine what kinds of measures would best deal with the problem, she said.
Another speaker at the news conference tried to lay to rest a myth about the benefits of drinking.
While some may believe the regular intake of wine is an effective way to decrease the likelihood of heart disease, Dr Patrick Li Chung-ki, president of the Hong Kong College of Physicians, said he would not recommend the regular use of alcohol as a disease-prevention strategy.