Addiction experts criticise schools using drinks industry funded group for lessons on alcohol

Addiction experts and advocates say that Drinkaware is working with schools against the advice of the HSE and the Department of Health.
Addiction experts criticise schools using drinks industry funded group for lessons on alcohol

Kenneth Fox

Secondary school teachers are being offered training in how to lead classroom lessons about alcohol by Drinkaware, an organisation funded by the alcohol industry.

As the Irish Examiner reports, addiction experts and advocates say that Drinkaware is working with schools against the advice of the HSE and the Department of Health.

Drinkaware, with funders including Diageo, Bulmers Ireland, and Heineken, confirmed that, to date, 15,000 first-year to third-year students have gone through its schools programme.

The HSE co-ordinator of drug and alcohol services in counties Cork and Kerry, David Lane, is to write to every secondary school in the region this week, urging them against sending teachers to take part in Drinkaware programmes. Mr Lane said:

"We don’t support Drinkaware or anybody else from the drinks industry running training programmes for teachers, or in terms of running their kinds of programmes in our schools."

Schools should be a no-go area for the alcohol industry, according to Alcohol Forum Ireland national lead for community, Paula Leonard.

“We wouldn’t let the tobacco industry in the door of our schools to teach our children how to smoke sensibly,” said Ms Leonard.

“It would be socially unacceptable, it would be unacceptable to the Minister for Education, it would be unacceptable to parents, because we now have a population awareness of the strategies of the tobacco industry.”

The issue was recently raised with Education Minister Norma Foley by Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall.

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