Reflecting the wider New Zealand drinking culture, alcohol use is also common among young people. Despite people under the age of 18 being unable to legally purchase alcohol themselves, the 2004 Health Behaviours Survey found that 56% of 12-17 year olds had consumed alcohol in the last 12 months.
However, while the youth drinking culture may broadly mirror the adult drinking culture, young people tend to have especially risky drinking patterns that result in their experiencing a disproportionate amount of alcohol-related harm. When they drink, young people are more likely to binge and consume large quantities of alcohol in one session. Given that this pattern of bingeing and intoxication has been shown to result in the greatest amount of alcohol-related harm, underage drinking and the sale and supply of alcohol to minors is a genuine source of concern to the community.