Lawsuit over teenage booze bashes

A watchdog is taking Austria’s leading organisers of post-graduation holiday bashes to court for “aggressive alcohol advertisement”.

Tens of thousands of young Austrians are going on holiday for one or two weeks each summer after passing their final exams – called Matura – before starting university studies or traineeships. An increasing number have spent all-inclusive Maturareise vacations at southern seaside resorts arranged by DocLX and its main rival Splashline in the past years. Now the Association for Consumer Information (VKI) said it called for an injunction on the booming businesses’ promotion activities.

VKI decided to press charges against DocLX yesterday (Mon). The organisation announced today it also filed an injunction lawsuit against Splashline after DocLX managers claimed the firm started advertising around-the-clock alcohol supply at holiday resorts chosen for graduates.

VKI said it opted for legal action “because it seems that Austria’s biggest Maturareise organisers try to outmuscle each other over who offers more high-percentage drinks.” The organisation said under-16s were banned from consuming alcoholic beverages with high alcohol percentage in some Austrian provinces “for a good reason”. VKI underlined that federal law featured various restrictions regarding how and to which extent alcohol manufacturers may advertise their products. It also made aware of Austrian education bylaws banning alcohol ads from schools completely. VKI explained it was not intending to spoil young people’s holidays after passing their final exams. The institution explained it was focusing on fighting aggressive campaigning and commercials “which tell youngsters what they are certain to enjoy.”

DocLX said the company would ensure that all alcohol offered to holidaymakers at its trips was of high quality. The firm also said its entertainment programme included relax and regeneration phases as well. DocLX pointed out that it “has not experienced a single grave incident involving alcohol and in general in 12 years of organising Maturareise parties.”

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said last February that around a third of Austrian teenagers had been completely drunk at least twice in their lives. It also found that 25 per cent of 15-year-old Austrians described themselves as regular smokers.