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Upcoming conscience vote on drinking age

7 September, 2006

Upcoming conscience vote on drinking age keenly awaited – O'Connor

Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor said today the upcoming conscience vote on whether to raise the drinking age was keenly anticipated.

MPs are due to vote on the issue, in November at the earliest, following a report back from the Law and Order select committee expected in October. Mr O'Connor was responding to questions from delegates today at the Cutting Edge conference on addiction treatment in Wellington.

"I can't predict the outcome of what is a conscience vote by MPs; I haven't phoned around to find out what they think. But my personal view is that 18 is an age that aligns with key ages of responsibility in other areas.

"I did not support the age to come down from 20 to 18 in 1999 but now that it is I think we are probably stuck with it.

"The issue that concerns me, as it does others, is that people aged under 18 are drinking. We must continue to do all we can to stop this.

"The government has funded a huge social marketing campaign to promote responsible drinking – at all ages, sting operations have been mounted, and there have been closures and prosecutions of businesses selling alcohol illegally to people younger than 18. This work is fully supported by the Police and will continue."

ENDS

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