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Parents back alcohol-free childhood

The Chief Medical Officer has today published final guidance on alcohol and children following an extensive consultation.

Parents have backed the Chief Medical Officer's advice that children should avoid alcohol completely before the age of 15.

Following publication of draft guidance in January this year, parents were asked what they thought. Parents from across the country commented on the guidance, with the majority welcoming its focus on parental responsibility and the clear advice on the health effects and risks of children drinking alcohol.

The final five-point guidance published today advises:

1. An alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option - if children drink alcohol, it shouldn't be before they reach 15 years old.

2. If young people aged 15-17 years old drink alcohol, it should always be with the guidance of a parent or carer or in a supervised environment.

3. Parents and young people should be aware that drinking, even at age 15 or older, can be hazardous to health and not drinking is the healthiest option for young people. If children aged 15-17 drink alcohol they should do so infrequently and certainly on no more than one day a week. They should never drink more than the adult daily limits recommended by the NHS.

4. The importance of parental influences on children's alcohol use should be communicated to parents, carers and professionals. Parents and carers need advice on how to respond to alcohol use and misuse by children.

5. Support services must be available for children and young people who have alcohol-related problems and their parents.

The final guidance is the first time advice on children and alcohol has been set out for parents and will be the basis of a new national campaign on alcohol and children to be launched by the Department for Children School's and Families in the new year. The campaign will provide support and advice to parents and young people on the effects and harms of alcohol.

Department of Health