Drinking causes illness, death

The paper from the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University, Western Australia, also shows that 78 Tasmanians aged 14 to 17 were hospitalised for alcohol-attributed reasons in 1999-2000.

Almost half of the 501 nationally alcohol-attributed fatalities in the same age bracket were car drivers or passengers. Other alcohol-related fatalities were suicides, assaults and drownings.

In the 14 to 17 age group, Tasmania’s rate of 0.6 deaths in each 10,000 is the third highest in the nation, after the Northern Territory’s rate of 1.78 and WA’s 0.65, well above the national average of 0.48.

While the national figure dropped over the past decade, most states recorded more hospitalisations as a result of alcohol.

Tasmania Police Northern District Commander Scott Tilyard said he was not aware of any under-age people dying in the State’s North in recent times as a result of alcohol. But police were regularly faced with the problems associated with intoxicated young people, usually aged 15, 16 or 17 but sometimes as young as 11 and 12, Cdr Tilyard said.

“We do from time to time certainly have to deal with situations where young people have consumed excessive amounts of alcohol, often at private parties, and it is a matter of concern,” he said.

“As a policing service, we get called to a lot of incidents where young people put themselves and others at significant risk.”

Cdr Tilyard said that police were expecting a busy night tomorrow for New Year’s Eve, but many of the calls were complaints about noisy parties rather than under-age drinkers.

“We want people to have a happy New Year and a safe New Year’s period,” he said. “It would be great if people didn’t put themselves at risk and if they didn’t spoil it for other people.”

Police and Public Safety Minister David Llewellyn yesterday urged people not to get in the car with drink-drivers, and to keep the State’s holiday road toll at zero.

Mr Llewellyn said that of the 58 people killed on the State’s roads this year, 19 were passengers, and many fatal accidents had involved speed and alcohol.

“Getting into a car with a drink-driver could be the worst and last decision of your life,” he said.

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