Feature

Why the girls are getting smashed

The week's news at a glance.

Netherlands

EditorialNRC Handelsblad

The liquor industry is targeting kids, said Amsterdam’s NRC Handelsblad in an editorial. When the latest statistics on drug use among schoolchildren came out last week, the trend was downward. The kids do less weed, less Ecstasy, and much less heroin. “They’re even smoking less.” Drinking, though, is up, especially among girls in junior high or even younger. As recently as 1999, only 38 percent of girls under 12 had tried alcohol. Last year, the figure was nearly 70 percent. Researchers blame the alarming rise on the “breezer culture.” Breezers are sweet bottled drinks laced with hard alcohol. “The name comes from a Bacardi product but applies here in the Netherlands to all such drinks.” Similar in taste to soft drinks, this type of alcohol is too sweet for most adults. It appeals to kids who don’t like the flavor of liquor or beer but can easily guzzle fruit punch. Of course, the companies don’t say they are marketing to underage drinkers. But they keep adding features that are attractive to girls, like low-cal versions or brightly colored bottles. This is particularly alarming because the younger you start drinking, the more likely you are to become a problem drinker. And the breezers already “have our schoolkids hooked.”

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