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NZMA calls for enforcement of drinking age

FROM: Dr John Adams, NZMA Chairman

DATE: Friday, 21 December 2001

SUBJECT: 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. "In past years we have heard too much about drunken teenagers who are out of control on New Year's Eve," said NZMA Chairman Dr John Adams. "For their own health and safety, this needs to be curbed." 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.

And Dr Adams' message for young people:

"If you want to drink, drink in moderation. Drinking water as well will help keep the body hydrated. Intoxication puts your safety at risk. Drunk people are more vulnerable to sexual and physical assault. Do not to drink and drive. Ensure you have a sober driver.

"The Christmas-New Year holiday period provides many opportunities to drink. But who wants to spend time coping with a thumping headache and nausea, rather than enjoying the sun and relaxation?"

"Give yourself a break. Hangovers are nature's way of saying 'don't do this to your body'."

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

Dr Adams said New Zealand teenagers already have a binge culture when it comes to alcohol, and many don't hesitate to flout the law to drink under-age. With the age limit now set at 18, it seems that even younger teens are now gaining access to alcohol

A recent survey showed that young people are drinking more, and many do not get asked for ID when purchasing alcohol. Those aged 14-17 recorded big increases in their drinking - both in volume and frequency.

The NZMA is looking forward to providing input into the review of the drinking age currently being carried out by the Justice Ministry.

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

ENDS

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