MANY of us hold presumptions about rural life being healthier than urban living. Perhaps, in general terms, it is. Our minds picture vast open spaces, fresh air, nature’s balm and a comparative lack of traffic, problem estates and dubious nightclubs.

But rural life also has its problems. Boredom, a comparative lack of nearby facilities (and transport needed to attend such that exist), and perhaps a sense of being far from the places where all the exciting things in movies happen – all these might be easily adduced. Perhaps such factors account for underage drinking being more prevalent in the country.

Bonding with one’s peers will also play a part, but doing it through drink is a dangerous business. Family and community bonding ought to be healthy counters to this, but in our times these too are often under pressure.

Alcohol Focus Scotland has rightly suggested a tailored approach to the problem, while Dr Leo Hendry identifies a need for greater support during the transition from childhood to young adulthood. This might involve more youth centres and increased possibilities for engaging in activities that offer a healthy chance to excel, such as music, sport or acting.

We would also suggest more accessible gyms, in which many young people express an interest. Getting into shape is a universal desire and, in the entirety of human history, there has never been one adolescent who did not want to look good.

To promote alternatives to alcohol, and let youngsters make what Police Scotland calls “informed life choices”, websites and other media will play a part, but parents should also be encouraged to help their offspring, bringing their own experience or knowledge to bear in a real and immediate way that avoids the worthy air of government messages viewed cynically by many adolescents.

However, the government initiative of minimum pricing still has a most important role to play, particularly since few teenagers have deep pockets.