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Older Youth Support Rise in Drinking Age - Poll

11 January 2012

Older Youth Support Rise in Drinking Age - Poll

A nationwide poll of 600 young people aged 15-21 poll has found that while younger teens want the drinking age to remain at 18, just over half of those aged 20 and 21 support a rise in the drinking age.

When asked “Do you think the age at which someone can purchase alcohol should remain at 18 or be raised to 20?” only 20% of those aged 15 to 17 thought it should be raised, but this increased to one in every three (33%) of those aged 18 and 19. For those who were aged 20 or 21, 51% supported an increase to 20. This is consistent with a 2009 Christchurch Press poll which found 50% support from those aged under 30 for raising the drinking age.

“We would hope that this result is not because young people aged 20 and over know they would meet the requirements of an increased age anyway, but because they have seen the effects of alcohol on the behaviour and wellbeing of their peers during their teen years,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“The views of young New Zealanders now add weight to the views of NZ’ers in other polls. A rise in the drinking age was supported by a Police Association poll (75% - 2009), a Research NZ poll (almost 75% - 2009), a Christchurch Press poll (75% - 2009), an online poll in the Dominion Post (77% - 2010) an online NZ Herald poll (72% - 2011), and a Herald-DigiPoll survey (59% - 2011).”

“The split age proposal being supported by many MP’s sends a mixed message and also ignores the growing body of medical and bioscience evidence regarding the harms of alcohol to teenagers and young people. NZ’ers overwhelmingly want the age increased and parents want legal backing and enforcement – not more responsibility to try and counter the prevailing culture of excessive drinking,” says Mr McCoskrie. “A recent report from the Prime Minister's chief science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman said raising the drinking age would be one effective way to address youth drinking problems.”

Family First released a report early last year entitled “YOUNG PEOPLE AND ALCOHOL: What Does the Medical Evidence Tell Us About the Legal Drinking Age in New Zealand?” It argued that new medical evidence on accident probability, disease and brain development makes it absolutely clear that delaying the age at which teenagers and young people have easy access to alcohol will reduce the level of damage they and society suffer at the moment as well as contributing to their future health and well-being.

“The evidence is in. The people, including our young people, have spoken. The real question now is whether the government will listen to NZers on this issue or capitulate to pressure from the alcohol industry,” says Mr McCoskrie.

The Curia Market Research poll surveyed 600 15-21 year olds nationwide. The poll was conducted between 4 and 6 December 2011 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.1%.


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