While a lot of hue and cry has been made out of teenagers' growing affiliation towards alcohol, a new research has found that it's not these youngsters but their fathers who are Australia's heaviest drinkers.
The finding comes as the latest challenge to the Australian Government's alcopops tax.
According to the Roy Morgan research, released by the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia, there is a reduction of fifty percent in the number of binge-drinking young women and it has now reached to 55,800 since 2007. They were outnumbered by the 865,800 heavy-drinking 40 plus men, who according to The Australian were reported as those who consume more than 100 drinks over a month,
Stephen Riden, DSICA information and research manager said that study highlighted that the Government's fixation on alcopops would not help much in solving a huge problem like drinking in Australia.
"Teenage binge drinking gets a lot of attention, but 50 per cent of heavy drinkers are men over 40. It's missing the mark," News.com.au quoted him, as saying.
However, the Government's focus on binge drinking among girls counters the research's findings that problem drinking is mainly a male domain, particularly among the so-called blue-collar "ute man" who helped in bringing the Labor to power.
The findings of the research makes a part of the alcohol industry's counter-offensive against the controversial 70 per cent hike in alcopop excises that may contribute 3.1 billion dollars to the Treasury in five years.
In April, the Labor announced the tax increase and insisted that if the flavoured, pre-mixed drinks would be priced higher, then it would result in slashing the binge-drinking rates among young women. And in order to support their move they cited other data demonstrating a sharp increase in popularity of alcopops among girls, to back the measure.
The Roy Morgan research said that alcopops were still considered to be the preferred alcoholic drink for 18- to 24-year-old women, that too after a decline in their consumption of them. While the research indicated that young women made for just 3.1 per cent of heavy drinkers last year, while in 2004, they accounted for 5.8 percent.
However, beer-drinking men turned out to be more problematic, as the rate of heavy drinking was found to be high among 40-plus men and this rate saw a steep increase among 18- to 24-year-old men.
Also, in the last two years, beer consumption, which was taxed at a lower rate than spirits and alcopops, reported a jump of 68 to 76 drinks per month among 18- to 24-year-old male problem drinkers.
"It's not RTDs they are getting drunk on - it's beer," said Riden.
According to him, beer accounted seventy five percent of alcoholic drinks consumed by Australians who drank at risky and dangerous levels.
"This aligns with research gathered by the retailing and hospitality industry that links increasing ... street and domestic violence to men binge drinking on beer," he said.
Now, the spirit industry is asking for a review of all alcohol taxes, including that on beer. However, the Government has not yet given any decision regarding this option and has left it to a preventative health taskforce to report on next year.
The Government's defence of the alcopops measure as a way of curbing excessive drinking among young women was backed by a spokesman for Health Minister Nicola Roxon, who, however, said that the binge-drinking campaign would not only cater to the youngsters but will also extend to older drinkers via programs, for example, that targeted sporting clubs.