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Lowering Drinking Age Law Didn't Reverse Negatives

Lowering Drinking Age Law Didn't Reverse Negative Trends

Progressive Party Press Statement
Press leader Jim Anderton

Progressive leader Jim Anderton says that the empirical evidence since the 1999 decision by Parliament to lower the legal drinking age to 18 suggests that the change didn't reverse negative social indicators as many had hoped at the time.

Jim Anderton was commenting on the third report by the Ministry of Justice on the effects of lowering the minimum drinking age released today.

"The last report, published in 2002, concluded that the time frame at that time was too short for conclusive analysis although the 2002 report did note that apprehensions for disorderly behaviour by those under 20 years of age had continued to increase.

"Today's report says negative social trends that existed before the legal age was lowered have continued unabated.

"It seems clear that young people who are drinking alcohol in this country are drinking both more frequently, and in higher volumes, especially in the 14-17 year old category.

"Many Police districts believe this is due to the fact that lowering the drinking age has made it easier, and in higher volumes, especially in the 14-17 year old category.

"The question is, do we continue to wait for more evidence over time, or should we act on the anecdotal evidence in the statistics which, on balance, indicate that the lowering of the legal drinking age has not had the beneficial impact many of us had hoped for but may even have had a detrimental effect on young people's drinking behaviour," the Progressive leader said.

"Problem drinking is New Zealand's Number One drug problem, with enormous personal, social and economic implications.

"I believe that we should adopt a precautionary approach to all big social challenges and am therefore signaling that I am moving to the view that Parliament should seriously consider supporting any bid to raise the legal drinking age back up to 20 years," the Progressive leader said.


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