Experts are warning that an entire generation of children are in danger of steering clear of nicotine and alcohol addiction, unless immediate action is taken.
Dr Steph O’Scope is worried that unless companies reintroduce the sale of low alcohol shandy drinks and ‘sweetie fegs’, many of Northern Ireland’s school children might never experience the joy that accompanies a life of alcohol dependency and respiratory illness.
Products such as Top Deck and Shandy Bass were marketed to children in the United Kingdom in the 1980s by ruthless companies hoping to desensitize children, leading them to become heavy drinkers in adult life.
It was not an uncommon sight in the 80s to see children as young as four drinking alcoholic beverages in the playground before returning to class.
One former pupil of the era, Davy Yardbrush, recalls, ‘I remember the teachers would let us outside for fifteen minutes at break-time so they could have a feg and back-stab the poor children’.
‘And there I was, stood in the playground with a tin of Top Deck in my hand while all us kids watched two stray Labradors ride the life clean outta each other’.
Davy’s mum, ‘wee Jean’, always bought her child candy-cigarettes when she got her own tobacco products.
‘I used to nip in for 40 regal kingsize and get the chile 20 sweetie fegs while I was there’, said Jean.
‘I thought I was doing him a favour in the long-run because it’d stap him from smoking mine when I went to bed, the wee shite’.