An off-trade clampdown on underage sales appears to be working as the number of 11 to 15-year-olds that reported purchasing alcohol from retailers fell to an all-time low.
New data released by NHS Digital shows that when children managed to obtain alcohol, 10% purchased it at an off-licence and 8% bought it at a supermarket.
The NHS surveyed more than 12,000 pupils in 177 schools across the UK in the autumn term of 2016 and it has just released the figures.
It found that 44% of pupils had tried alcohol, but that the vast majority were given it by their parents.
The previous survey was conducted in 2014, when 12% of the pupils that had acquired alcohol got it at an off-licence and 11% from a supermarket.
Back in 1996, 27% of students that had tried alcohol bought it at an off-licence and 13% bought it from a supermarket – showing how dramatically rates have fallen in the past 20 years.
The on-trade also fared well in the survey as just 7% of schoolchildren that reported having tried alcohol said they bought it at a pub, bar or club.
Portman Group chief executive John Timothy said: “Drinks producers and retailers have made it a priority to clamp down on underage sales and it is great to see that their actions appear to be paying dividends with alcohol becoming increasingly less accessible to children via the on and off-trade.
“They have introduced strict enforcement on underage sales, robust ID schemes and pioneered Community Alcohol Partnerships, Pubwatch and Best Bar None. The Portman Group’s codes of practice also ensure that alcohol marketing is not targeted at, or appealing to children.”
The Portman Group also hailed the role of the Challenge 25 scheme in stamping out underage sales, and noted that there are now 150 CAPs across the country to tackle the supply of alcohol to children, and to reduce the demand for alcohol among under-18s via enforcement, education and community engagement.