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MPs should re-examine the legal drinking age

8 June 2005

The Salvation Army calls on MPs to re-examine the legal drinking age

The Salvation Army Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit is urging MPs to vote yes to the first reading of the Sale of Liquor (Youth Alcohol Harm Reduction) Bill so it can be sent to a select committee for debate and review.

‘Statistics from the health sector and addiction services, and the experience of parents are telling us that there has been an increase in problem drinking amongst young teenagers since the drinking age was lowered,’ said Major Campbell Roberts, Director of The Salvation Army Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit, ‘We believe that the drinking age should be put back to 20 years, but at the very least let us put this issue back on the legislative agenda and examine it again.’

The Salvation Army is a major provider of alcohol and drug addiction services and experiences first hand the consequences of alcohol abuse.

‘We have parents ringing needing help with their quite young teenagers’ out of control drinking, and staff report cases of children as young as 10 years who are regularly drunk. Hospital data shows an increase in the number of 10 to 14 year old's admitted for alcohol poisoning. There is a real problem out there that needs to be addressed,’ said Major Roberts.

‘We recognise that the drinking age is but one factor in these rising problems, advertising and New Zealand’s drinking culture are also to blame, but solving these will take time. Raising the drinking age will start to change the drinking culture. It is a measure that can be taken right now, that will have some immediate impact, while we work on these longer term issues,’ said Major Roberts.

‘We urge all MPs to vote yes to the Bill. Let
s acknowledge that we got it wrong last time, and have the courage to make a positive change,’ concluded Major Roberts.

ENDS

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