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SHOCK TRUTH OF KIDS LURED INTO BOOZING.

The most explosive poll ever into teenage drinking has emphatically shown that "alcopops" DO lure children into boozing.

The astonishing revelations refute claims that alcoholic fruit drinks do not appeal to youngsters.

The exclusive ICM survey for the Sunday Mirror was compiled BEFORE yesterday's Government decision to give police increased powers to crack down on under-age drinking in public.

And it shows that one in four boys and a third of girls lose their virginity while drunk.

More than one in three teenagers also admits that alcohol has caused them to commit crimes, ranging from fights to vandalism and joyriding.

Yesterday Labour's consumer affairs spokes-man Nigel Griffiths said: "These are horrific findings and reveal the dangers generated by the industry, retailers, and sadly, irresponsible parents.

"The Sunday Mirror has uncovered the evidence that everyone suspected was there. Your survey shows the industry fools no-one when it claims not to target young drinkers.

"We urgently need a Government committee to look at the increase in teen drinking."

Breweries now face an uphill fight to stop Chancellor Kenneth Clarke from using his November budget to triple the tax on "alcopops" to around 42p a bottle.

The tax threat follows the controversy over Carslberg-Tetley's launch of Thickhead - described as an "alcoholic gel".

Distribution of Thickhead was suspended after the Portman Group, which promotes responsible drinking, complained that the world "alcoholic" was not sufficiently prominent on the labels.

But Portman Group director Jean Coussins, warned that the real problems of alcoholic abuse "cannot be solved by imposing a heavy tax".

Criminal

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Michael Howard's plans to ban youngsters drinking in public places received a cool reception from the police yesterday.

Mike Bennett, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, called the proposals "unworkable" and said if imposed they would brand youngsters with criminal records.

Mr Howard's new laws would slap a pounds 500 fine on anyone under 18 caught drinking in public who refused to give their name and address. Officers would also be allowed to confiscate alcohol they believed had been bought for anyone under 18.

But Mr Bennett said the only way of preventing drinking in public was to ban all take-away sales.

Our Survey - Pages 8 & 9
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Author:Rice, Dennis; Bell, Matthew
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 8, 1996
Words:367
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