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NZMA calls for enforcement of drinking age

Friday 20 December 2002

NZMA calls for enforcement of drinking age

The New Zealand Medical Association has called for the legal drinking age to be vigorously enforced over the festive season, particularly in light of a Justice Department report showing younger people are drinking more.

"Binge drinking is a serious problem for New Zealand teenagers, and each New Year’s Eve we see numerous reports of drunken teenagers who are out of control,” said NZMA Chairman Dr John Adams. “For their own health and safety, this needs to be curbed.”

The Justice Department report (available at www.justice.govt.nz) showed that the amount and frequency of drinking by those as young as 14, as well as older age groups, had increased.

“While the Justice Department report is not conclusive, and more evidence is needed, there is ample anecdotal evidence to show that teens under 18 are gaining access to large amounts of alcohol,” Dr Adams said.

Bar owners and staff must take more responsibility for checking the ID of young people, and police must take a zero tolerance line on bars and venues which are lax in enforcing the drinking age. Parents and other people who are legally able to purchase alcohol should think carefully before supplying alcohol to young teenagers, he said.

“Apart from the inevitable hangover, drunkenness also makes people more vulnerable to sexual and physical assault, and as well as being caught up in situations they will later regret.”

The NZMA plans to continue advocating for the law to be changed to raise the drinking age back to 20.

The NZMA wishes everyone a happy and safe Christmas and New Year.

ENDS

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