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Raising Drinking Age Would Reduce Harm

Wednesday, 19 May 2004

Raising Drinking Age Would Reduce Harmful Youth Pressures

The Salvation Army supports calls to raise the legal drinking age to 20, as a way to reduce harmful pressures on young people.

‘New Zealand young people have heavy life pressures on them already and the addition of alcohol at too early an age can complicate their lives and decision making processes,’ says The Salvation Army’s National Director of Social Policy Research Campbell Roberts.

‘Parliament lowered the drinking age to 18 on the promise that it would reverse some of the negative factors associated with teenage alcohol consumption, such as binge drinking and addiction. But the Ministry of Justice’s recent report on the effects of lowering the drinking age fails to conclusively show that those negative factors are being reduced.’

Major Roberts said that although the Justice report does not conclusively point to a greater number of young people drinking, it does show an increase in alcohol consumption by teenagers.

‘The Salvation Army works daily with families around the country who are affected in some way by teenage use of alcohol. The anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that lowering the drinking age has resulted in significant negative alcohol-related patterns of behaviour.’

Major Roberts said that The Salvation Army believes it is important to immediately take a more conservative approach and raise the drinking age to 20.

‘Whichever way you look at it, alcohol is an addictive substance and its increase in use by young people must be of concern to the community. By the time we have more conclusive data about damage the lower drinking age is having on young people and New Zealand families, it may be too late for many,’ he said.


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