Drinking in China and teenagers

Drinking is a real culture in China. Great poets have celebrated drunkenness, such as Li Bai, who lived in the Tang era in the 8th century. In his poem “ On Drinking Alone by Moonlight” he invites the moon: ” Rather than to drink alone, I’ll make bold to ask the moon.”

li bo moon

At the time, in some areas of the North, to close profitable deals, alcohol helps (see article here). Alcohol also poses many difficulties. Shenzhen, which is often a pioneer, has enacted a specific law on alcohol prohibition for teenagers. The alcoholic drink has become the number one risk factor for death among young people. The research bureau Trigger Trend takes stock of the situation.

A new, clearer law

On October 29, Shenzhen passed the first law in China, prohibiting alcohol sale to minors from January 1, 2021. Pineapple beer and cocktails are no exception. Fines of 30,000 yuan will be imposed on the reckless.

This is not the first legal attempt in this direction. Already ten years ago, the revised “Law on the Protection of Minors” and “Measures on the Circulation of Alcoholic Beverages” were proposed: operators of alcoholic beverages must not sell alcoholic products to minors. However, as the enforcement responsibilities were not clear, the corresponding sanctions are not severe and are rarely applied. 

The most significant risk factor for adolescents in deaths

Alcohol consumption has become the biggest risk factor in teenage deaths in China. Behind the alcohol ban, there are death statistics. The current Chinese laws and regulations do not specify the legal age for buying alcohol, not the legal drinking age. In other words, you are not allowed to purchase alcohol before the age of 18, which does not mean that you are not allowed to drink it. 
Data from the 2015 China Adolescent Burden of Disease study show that alcohol consumption has become the leading risk factor for death among Chinese adolescents aged 10 to 19, with almost 10% of adolescent deaths related to alcohol consumption. A total of 5,957 teenage deaths were alcohol-related in 2015, which is more than the total number of deaths from the second to the tenth risk factor, accounting for 9.4% of all deaths. Of these, 4,805 alcohol-related deaths occurred among boys or 11% of male deaths, and 1,153 deaths occurred among girls or 5.8% of female deaths.
Also, adolescents are growing and developing, and their brain development reaches its second critical period. Alcohol consumption is likely to interfere with brain development and affect cognitive function later in life. Many studies have shown that alcohol is no less dangerous than smoking.

Number of teenagers deaths with the ten most important risk factors in 2015 :

death of young people in china pollution

The alcohol culture of minors

However, the phenomenon of alcohol consumption among teenagers in China is not encouraging. According to a survey, 51.2% of Chinese teenagers aged 12 and over have already drunk alcohol, and 58.9% of teenagers aged 15 to 17, with boys being significantly more at risk than girls. Of these teenagers, 28% started drinking before the age of 10, with a tendency to drink earlier and earlier. 
According to the study, 69.1% of the young people agreed that “the state should prohibit the sale of alcohol to minors,” and only 64.1% of the boys agreed. The behavior of their elders influences young people during meals and large banquets. Drinking has become a kind of culture. The fear of appearing rude and being ostracized from the group is the primary concern of adolescents. Simultaneously, relatively few take the initiative to drink to express themselves and expand their network.
Research has shown that 61.9% of adolescents regularly drank at parties with friends or classmates, while only 18% drank periodically alone.
According to research and analyses, parents’ alcohol consumption has an impact on the alcohol consumption of children. Still, parents’ attitude towards their children’s alcohol consumption is even more critical than that of the parents themselves. Children whose parents do not object to alcohol consumption are twice as likely to drink, and students whose parents approve of their drinking are ten times more likely to drink than those whose parents explicitly forbid it. According to statistics, 28.6% of students were advised to drink by their families during the Chinese New Year vacation. 
In general, boys are more at risk, but it is interesting to note that the data shows that mothers are more likely to persuade girls to drink than boys.
A recent CDC research paper showed that after three months of outreach and education of more than 6,000 parents in Chengdu, Guangzhou and Harbin on the “No Drinking for Minors” campaign, parents’ knowledge and attitudes toward alcohol improved some extent, and mothers’ drinking rates decreased. Still, fathers’ drinking behavior did not change.
It is clear that the reason fathers drink is not a lack of knowledge about the health hazards of drinking, but rather appears to be the belief that drinking is a “social skill” that children, especially boys, should acquire to help them develop resources and social power later in life and that it is more beneficial than the physical hazards of drinking. Thus, whether the advice comes from fathers or mothers for their daughters seems to point to the unbearable status quo that often, to advance in society, it is necessary to drink a little, and even girls had better be good at it.

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