Parents Crucial to Tackle Underage Drinking, Bud Maker Says

Parents could do more to help their children drink alcohol responsibly by talking to them about the dangers, according to a survey conducted by Ipsos for Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (ABI), the world’s biggest brewer.

“What we’ve found, and what people often forget, is that the key influence when it comes to children making the right decisions is actually the role that their parents are playing in their lives,” Sabine Chalmers, chief legal and corporate affairs officer at AB InBev, said by phone yesterday.

Brewers are seeking to maintain a clean image amid concern over the impact of youth alcohol consumption. AB InBev, based in Leuven, Belgium, has spent more than $112 million on promoting responsible drinking and plans to invest at least $300 million by the end of 2014. Hospitalization for underage drinking costs about $755 million a year in the U.S., according to a study published last year by medical researcher the Mayo Clinic.

About 90 percent of parents in 10 out of 11 countries surveyed deem it important to discuss responsible drinking with their children, while 80 percent in nine of those countries had actually done so, the survey showed. Those parents that hadn’t talked about the issue mainly said their children were too young. Ipsos surveyed 1,000 people each in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, the U.K., Mexico, Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine, AB InBev said in a press release.

“Our view is that it’s never too early or too late to talk to your kids,” Chalmers said. “Some of those conversations can and should start as early as the ages of six, seven or eight.” Parents assume the prime age to be from nine to eleven, according to the survey.

Many parents find it difficult to initiate the discussion, Chalmers said. AB InBev is taking steps to help enable them to talk including partnering with schools to provide workshops for parents, she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Clementine Fletcher in London cfletcher5@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net

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