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Select committee consensus on raising drinking age

Select committee finds consensus on raising the drinking age

The New Zealand Drug Foundation today welcomes the Law & Order Committee’s report on a member’s bill to raise the minimum purchase age of alcohol (the “drinking age”). The whole committee has endorsed the intention of the bill to return the purchase age to 20 years.

“We applaud the committee’s work over the past eleven months. They have listened to a wide range of evidence and research, and have come to the obvious conclusion that raising the age to 20 years is one of the important things we need to do to change New Zealand’s drinking culture”, said Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell.

The Drug Foundation is pleased the committee has not recommended a split-age for on- and off-licences.

“The Drug Foundation advised the committee to avoid introducing exemptions to the 20 year purchase age. Splitting the age for different licences would have been a nightmare for enforcement agencies. Committee members have also heard the evidence that a split age would be inconsistent with the aim of reducing harm to youth from alcohol consumption,” Mr Bell said.

The committee has recommended minor exemptions to the 20 year age for sellers of alcohol (e.g. bar staff), entertainers and spouses/civil union partners under the age of 20 years. The Drug Foundation agrees these exemptions addresses some practical considerations.

The Drug Foundation says the public will welcome the committee’s recommendations.

“A survey published today by Massey University confirms earlier surveys that consistently show over 70 percent of New Zealanders think the age should be returned to 20 years. Parents, doctors, addiction treatment workers and others concerned with youth drinking will be very pleased with this report. It now up to the public to lobby their local member of Parliament to ensure the bill is passed”, said Ross Bell.

The Drug Foundation is surveying each MP to find out whether they support raising the age to 20 years. The survey results are updated daily on the website www.20years.co.nz.

“The New Zealand public can now see whether their local MP is voting in the interests of public health. We know that this is a very important issue for people and we are pleased to provide this simple but effective resource,” Ross Bell said.

www.20years.co.nz is now online

ENDS

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