Balance North East say the region has the highest rate of young people under 18 years old in specialist alcohol treatment in England - more than twice the national rate. Balance are calling for people to sign a petition to protect children and young people from alcohol advertising.
In the North East more than 600 young people were in treatment in 2010-2011, 7% of the total number of all people in treatment in the region. Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, stated the "Our children are vulnerable, with a higher likelihood of being a victim of crime, of unprotected sex, saying yes to drugs and damaging their education and potentially their future."
Balance have relaunched their campaign to urge the Government to do more to "turn the tide" of binge drinking. Key areas it says need to be addressed include the prevention of alcohol advertising aimed at young people; the prevention of alcohol advertising on TV and at the cinema; prevention of alcohol marketing on social networking sites and the ending of sponsorship by the alcohol industry of sports and young people's events.
The generally accepted picture that everyone drinks needs also to be challenged, urged Melanie Souter, Manager of Matrix, a young person's service in the NE. "Alcohol is now more accessible to young people with reinforced messages that it's OK to drink to excess", she explained.
The call for action from Balance follows recent concerns that the Responsible Marketing Pact is not robust enough to tackle young people's exposure to alcohol. In 2009 the British Medical Association published Under the influence: The damaging effect of alcohol marketing on young people. Alcohol Concern have also campaigned on the issue.