Teenage binge drinking on the rise in HK

13th 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.

hong-kongAccording 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.

2 Responses to “Teenage binge drinking on the rise in HK”

  1. Grant Baird says:

    Having been involved in the industry for over 24 years in Lan Kwai Fong area I have seen the invasion of 7 Elevens into the area with yet another outlet now opening in Wyndham Street. No matter how much 7 Eleven plays out the corporate responsible line of comment how do you explain four 7 elevens opening in a bar district all within walking distance of 5 mins.

    On busy holidays the staff in these 7 elevens also open the bottles for customers in the outlet opposite the new California tower in the early hours of the morning. The issue of teenage drinking has increased thanks to the two sided story 7 eleven tell the public.

    What makes it more interesting…… you have a sign up saying to buy cigarettes you have to be over 18 years……but a 14 year old can go into the shop legally & buy bottles of alcohol.

    Unless the Hong Kong Government changes the by laws this problem will never go away.

  2. C. Hauser says:

    This isn’t recent. Back in my days in the late 90’s we were drunk teenagers with booze supplied by 7-11’s. I remember one night my girlfriends and I are out- we’ve just popped open bottles of beer outside a 7-11, infront of a cop. Yes, a cop. We were around 13/14 then. Looks like things haven’t changed in the last 15 years.

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