Teenage drinking in Israel is on the verge of becoming an epidemic, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday in a government meeting.
The prime minister said there has been a 15 percent increase in alcohol consumption over the last three years, which must spur immediate action on three fronts: legislation, enforcement, and education.
"The most important thing is to take immediate action - and to do so aggressively," said Netanyahu.
The premier opened the cabinet meeting with data detailing the drinking problem in Israel.
"About a third of teens aged 12-18 report that they got drunk in the last year, which is a terrible figure," he said. "Moreover, about 20% of boys in the sixth grade report having drunk an alcoholic beverage, or that they drink an alcoholic beverage once a week. That is the second largest figure in Europe."
Netanyahu said he believed the trends could be reversed. "Other countries took action and succeeded, and we are learning from them," he said.
The prime minister also outlined the government's three-pronged plan to combat teenage drinking.
"First, we will implement a change in legislation that will limit the selling of alcohol to minors and will worsen the punishment of breaking the law," he said. "Second, we will strengthen the enforcement on the prohibition of selling of alcoholic beverages in places such as clubs and bars.
"And third, we intend to create a public atmosphere that opposes the drinking of alcohol, especially among teens through various educational activities."
He also said that the government would allocate NIS 27 million for the initiative.
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