Teenage binge drinking on the rise in HK13th May, 2014 by Rupert Millar
Youth charities in Hong Kong are worried that a legal loophole and lack of government awareness is leading to a rise in binge drinking among teenagers.
According to a report in the South China Morning Post, teenagers are increasingly turning to convenience stores and supermarkets to buy alcohol as a legal loophole means there is technically no age restriction on the sale of alcoholic drinks there as there is in bars, clubs and restaurants.
With on-trade venues increasingly cracking down on underage drinkers (one bar owner interviewed said he spends nearly HK$1 million a year on door security), teenagers are heading for the off-trade where staff routinely do not ask for identification.
They then drink in the streets outside the store, with the popular night-spots of Lan Kwai Fong, Central and Wanchai becoming increasing problem areas.
A spokesman for one of the city’s biggest chains, 7-Eleven, stressed that it was the company’s policy not to sell alcohol to minors even if it was not a legal requirement.
Nonetheless, Chan Wing-kin, a social worker at the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs Association of Hong Kong told the SCMP, that there has definitely been a rise in underage binge drinking over the last five to 10 years.
The problem is that, historically, Chinese culture has ensured that binge drinking, particularly by minors, is not a major problem in Hong Kong as it is in many European and American cities.
Even though 65% of secondary school students admitted to having tried alcohol in a survey conducted by the narcotic division of the Security Bureau in 2008, there are at the moment very few if any statistics on alcohol abuse among under-18s.