Shropshire Star comment: Cheers to new coffee generation

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

Now here’s something you wouldn’t have predicted only a short time ago, and it may be difficult to believe today.

The number of under-18s being treated at Shropshire’s hospitals after drinking too much alcohol has fallen. And the reason? Apparently it’s the rise of the coffee culture.

The figures tell their own story. Last year 160 children were treated at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, compared to over 200 in each of the preceding three years. At the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital the trend is similar, with 65 being treated last year, compared to over 100 in each of the preceding three years.

Who says it is down to the coffee culture? That interpretation comes from Sonya Jones, team manager of Young Addaction Shropshire – and yes, that title is correct, not young addiction – who attributes the fall not just to coffee shops, but also an increasing awareness of health issues.

“You only have to walk through Shrewsbury town centre to see young people seated outside Starbucks. Drinking alcohol just isn’t as fashionable among young people any more,” she says.

This is a pleasing trend towards a healthier lifestyle and more responsible attitude to drink. Nevertheless, the overall picture remains a concern. A large number of youngsters under the legal drinking age are getting their hands on alcohol and downing it with such abandon they are ending up in hospital.

Perhaps it is taking a little while to get through to them that it is not cool any more to get smashed out of your head.

There are various initiatives which have sought to improve alcohol awareness. The figures suggest that they now have an increasingly receptive audience. These initiatives are preaching to people who, it seems, are already well on the way to converting themselves.

There are few more persuasive forms of pressure than peer pressure and at last a lot of youngsters are seeing the light, and rejecting the notion that getting drunk equates to being “sociable” and are replacing it with something that is genuinely sociable – popping down the coffee shop and having a chat with your mates. as seen in scenes on American and Australian television, which may have something to do with influencing British youngsters’ behaviour.

The advent of the big coffee shop chains has been controversial in some Shropshire towns, but here is another side of the coin, with their role in drawing in youngsters and, these figures appear to show, drawing them away from the demon drink.

It is positive news which deserves a toast – either with a latte or Americano.


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