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4/20/08 Across Europe, teens' alcohol abuse worsens - by Veronika Oleksyn

For the complete report from the Houston Chronicle click on this link

Across Europe, teens' alcohol abuse worsens - by Veronika Oleksyn

A 13-year-old schoolgirl in southern Austria celebrated the start of her spring break with a bottle of schnapps. She ended up in intensive care. In other countries across Europe, adolescents are making similar headlines for drinking themselves into a stupor, often passing out in the process. And they're getting younger: A June 2006 European Union-commissioned report says nearly all 15- to 16-year-old European students have had alcohol at some point in their lives and, on average, now start when they're just 12 1/2 years old.Supermarkets sell alcohol and, unlike in the U.S., bottles and cans are seldom stashed away in areas that are off-limits to underage customers. Carding is uncommon.

In Austria — where binge drinking is known as "Komatrinken," or "coma drinking" — a new law prohibits the sale of alcohol to anyone under either 16 or 18, depending on the region, and requires cashiers and establishments to card customers if they have any doubt about their age.

Failure to do so can result in fines of up to euro3,500.00 (US$5,610) and loss of a liquor license.

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