Best practice - Slovenia
In recent years the problem of young people drinking at mass gatherings (music festivals and sport events) is increasing. Free events attract young people, who on such occasions consume large amounts of alcohol, both at the event and especially before entering the event space itself. By law, consumption of alcohol at sport events is banned, but the alcohol industry finds its way out by registering a separate music event just in front of the space where the sport event takes place.
In 2013 No Excuse Slovenia conducted a study on one of these events – Rhythm of Youth (Ritem mladosti), through which they wanted to find out the average age of visitors, the proportion of young visitors, as well as how much alcohol they consumed. Random visitors were systematically chosen and asked about their age and amount of alcohol consumed – at various locations around the venue and at various time.
As the Rhythm of youth is a very popular public event for young people and minors, our actions were focused mainly in line with this event, though the proposed measures applied to all public events.
Between 18.00 and 19.00 143 visitors were stopped, with average age of 17.79 years , the proportion of underage people was 72.0% . Between 20:00 and 21:00 , the average age of 137 visitors was 17,12 years , the proportion of underage people was 63.5% . Between 22:00 and 23:00 , average age of 99 visitors was 17,68 years , with 55.6% of them being underage.
Between 18.00 and 19.00 there was 85.4% underage people who drank nothing (92,2% among girls and 74,4% among boys) and 1,9% that drank 5 or more units of alcohol (1,6% of the girls and 2,6% of the boys. The latter percentage between 20:00 and 21:00 rose to 18.4% (14.8% girls and 24.2% boys), and to 30,9% between 22:00 and 23:00 (23.3% girls and 40.0 % boys) .
At this hour, the percentage of minors that drank no alcohol was 29.13 %, which means that more than 70 % of minors drank some alcohol until then, of which almost a third exceeded the limit of binge drinking (5 units), with the proportion of boys, higher than that of girls.
The survey results are to a certain extent limited by self-reporting of the participants of the quantity drank beverages and not separating drinking at the venue and in front of it, but are representing approximate picture of the problem of underage drinking at mass gatherings.
Advocacy campaign for stricter alcohol policy measures on mass gatherings
Based on the above-mentioned research and other observation, we wanted to suggest certain amendments in the legislation related to alcohol. The suggested changes were:
- Introduction of an amendment to the Slovenian Law on Public Gatherings, which would require organizers labeling people above 18 (e.g. with specific visible/ identifiable bracelets ).
- In parallel with these measures we suggest additional articles in the Slovenian Law on the Restriction of the Use of Alcohol:
- Stricter and more consistent implementation of measures of alcohol sales , especially on the express tills in large supermarkets, where supervision by the staff is very limited;
- Tighter controls should be implemented at special events, when it is common knowledge that drinking alcohol is quite extensive;
- Sellers of alcoholic beverages should sell at least half a variety of soft drinks, which are priced the same or cheaper than the cheapest alcoholic beverages;
- The possession and drinking of alcoholic beverages by persons under the age of 18 years should be. In case of non-compliance with this provision, punishment should take place on several levels: a minor would receive a reminder at the first offense, second offense would be followed by a formal written warning to parents, while at the third offense a parents should be a fined and checked at a compulsary meeting at the Slovene Social Services due to the neglect of a minor.
Those suggestions were presented at Press conference and the 3rd Forum of NGOs working on addition, organised by Institute Utrip and No Excuse in Ljubljana in December 2013. The press conference was prepared as a »breakfast with journalists«, where journalist could join out to speak in non-formal setting. The suggestions were also presented at the Slovenian Ministry of Health where the response was rather positive.
Sport events without alcohol – »I am cheering 0,0«
Alongside the advocacy campaign for stricter alcohol policy for mass gatherings, another short term campaign connected to public gatherings took place in September 2013– »I am cheering 0,0« (Navijam 0,0), with which we aimed to encourage young people during the European Basketball Championship to follow the basketball games without alcohol.
The campaign was organised by No Excuse Slovenia with the support of Ministry of Health and the National Institute for Pubic Health in Slovenia. Young activists were trained to interact with (primarily young) people in front of the venues where basketball matches took place. Bracelets saying »I am cheering 0,0« were given out to the attenders of the games and they were encouraged to like the Facebook page of the campaign. Although relatively small in reach (around 2.500 bracalets were given away), the campaign was well accepted by both the activists and the public.