Plea to ‘treat booze like ciggies’
Stuff.co.nz 13 July 2012 The children’s commissioner says an “explosion” in the number of children with signs of foetal alcohol syndrome terrifies him. Russell Wills, a paediatrician, yesterday urged a health select committee inquiry into child abuse to look again at a minimum-price regime for alcohol sales and to treat alcohol “with the same seriousness” as cigarettes. “The effect of foetal alcohol syndrome honestly terrifies me,” Dr Wills said. “My outpatient work is largely with children with severe behaviour disorders, and like all of my colleagues, my experience is the number of children that I’m seeing with foetal alcohol effects has just exploded in the last five years, and all of us are seeing this.” The trend was frightening because even though early intervention could mitigate the effects of the syndrome, there was a “very substantial number of these kids” coming through the education system who would need a lot of help. Whereas young people were actively discouraged from smoking, the same did not apply to alcohol. “Alcohol causes enormous harm to children and it’s my view that we’re not treating alcohol with the same seriousness as we are cigarettes,” Dr Wills said.