International Alcohol Purchase Ages

October 26th, 2006 at 7:51 pm by David Farrar

As Parliament considers raising the alcohol purchase age to 20, it is always useful to look at the situation overseas. Using OECD countries (including members in waiting) my findings are:

Switzerland 14
Austria 16
Belgium 16
Denmark 16
France 16
Germany 16
Greece 16
Italy 16
Netherlands 16
Norway 16
Poland 16
Portugal 16
Spain 16
Turkey 16
Cyprus 17
Luxembourg 17
Australia 18
Canada 18
Chile 18
Czech Republic 18
Estonia 18
Finland 18
Hungary 18
Ireland 18
Israel 18
Latvia 18
Lithuania 18
Mexico 18
New Zealand 18
Slovakia 18
Slovenia 18
Sweden 18
UK 18
South Korea 19
Iceland 20
Japan 20
USA 21

Some countries have a split age such as Germany which is 15 but 18 for hard liquor.

It is very clear that 18 is the standard age, and that more countries have an age below 18 than do above 18. The only ones above 18 are the US, Iceland and Japan.

The average (mean) age is 17.4

There are serious issues in NZ with alcohol abuse amongst some youth. However overseas experiences suggests that most countries do not see a ‘drinking’ age over 18 as being a solution.

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58 Responses to “International Alcohol Purchase Ages”

  1. SPC () says:

    There was a referendum in 1999 where the public called for 100 MP’s.

    Recently a parliamentary select committee, when able to see the situation in an international context and also appreciate the improved political representation dynamic here, chose to take it’s own counsel.

    There is equally strong international consensus on this issue and less strong public support for the 20 year old age than that for a 100 seat parliament.

    And of course, if the voice of those 18 to 20 was to be made manifest, they would have equal status before the law as all others over 18.

    So will MP’s in the wider parliament make up for the cowardly behaviour of those of that select committee and follow the proper course on this issue too?

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  2. Berend de Boer () says:

    I can add one more finding: there is no country with a Treaty of Waitangi. The mean of countries besides NZ is zero. So I think we should get rid of it.

    The point is: it is not always useful to see what other countries do. We might not have the same problems and issues.

    I think the age is pretty irrelevant. The age limit a country has is the limit it thinks most abuse is prevented. So it depends on the circumstances.

    That’s how this proposal should be considered: will it have any effect? 70% of NZ’ers think it will.

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  3. Chris () says:

    With respect Berend 70% of NZers are wrong.

    I look forward to Ross’ reasons for why NZ should be out of step with the rest of the world. No doubt it will be the usual carping on about youth drinking, the dangers of alcohol, etc.

    Ross, who funds the NZ Drug Foundation. I went to your website – what do you actually do? (Aside from “best practice” research?)

    I note you aim towards “Building consensus on policies and practices that build a healthy society with the least possible harm from drug use.”

    Why don’t you advocate for the legalisation of all drugs then? Seems to fit with the above goals.

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  4. stephan () says:

    Not sure how accurate that table is because in Canada, or at least the places I know about, the age is 19, not 18 per table.

    Also, in parts of US it isn’t just the purchasing age you are talking about – but actual consumption i.e. you can’t actually drink alcohol legally before age 21.

    But basically if the 2 most successful nations in the world, US and Japan, go for 21 and 20 – then that’s the way to go: Japan knows how to defeat drug and alcohol abuse – the place is clean, tidy and hard working and we could learn a great deal from ‘em.

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  5. HK Ham () says:

    Comprehensive details here.

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  6. reid () says:

    It’s not the threshold so much as the social attitude and I venture to suggest our attitude toward alcohol is markedly less mature to Europe’s, which make up most of that table.

    Also, whatever the threshold, people 2-3 years under it will get free access to it via their siblings and older associates. It was a no-brainer when they reduced the age that 14-16 year olds would start drinking the way they’re now drinking. It was a complete foreseeable no-brainer. That’s what the problem is – it’s not the 18 year olds. But it’s putting it down to 18 that’s caused the issue to arise, executed as usual by moron politicians who don’t understand basic human behaviour.

    Maybe lifting the threshold now won’t put things back to where they were, but it can’t hurt. Last time I looked, most 18 year olds could still sneak into the pub, so they won’t suffer.

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  7. bernard () says:

    If you;ve seen german police or dutch police handling a violent drunk then you’ll understnd how they live with lower ages.

    theres nothing like a seriously good crack on the head to let you know that it would be unwise to do it again.

    Ive seen a drunk go horizontaly into the back of the paddy wagon – and he wasnt touching the ground as he travelled. Other times they just leave them where they are if they are beyond hurting anyone else – they see no reason to drag drunks off to hospital for help when others who arent pissed deserve the help more.

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  8. burt () says:

    Japan might have a legal age of 20, but is very permissive of drinking in society. Responsible drinking gets taught at home, well before either 18 or 20.

    Being a bit of a cynic, if the age is bumped up to 20, invest in a tinnie house or a P lab. A lot of pissed off late teens will be spending their fun money another way from the day it’s enacted.

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  9. Ross Bell () says:

    Chris, I’ve replied to your comments above – but for some reason my post has been held back. DPF may release it later?

    But one final comment – the Drug Foundation makes no excuse for being concerned about youth drinking, and the harms alcohol causes this country. I’m not sure why you would use that concern as a negative.

    I am happy to send you our full submission to the Law & Order Committee on the bill – it outlines all the evidence, and I would welcome a critique of that submission. It’s well researched, as I’m sure your critique too would be.

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  10. Ross Bell () says:

    Chris, I’ve replied to your comments above – but for some reason my post has been held back. DPF may release it later?

    But one final comment – the Drug Foundation makes no excuse for being concerned about youth drinking, and the harms alcohol causes this country. I’m not sure why you would use that concern as a negative.

    I am happy to send you our full submission to the Law & Order Committee on the bill – it outlines all the evidence, and I would welcome a critique of that submission. It’s well researched, as I’m sure your critique too would be.

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  11. Chris () says:

    I have to say that Reid’s “Last time I looked, most 18 year olds could still sneak into the pub, so they won’t suffer” is a really bizzare way of justifying a law change. Essentially the logic is that we shouldn’t worry, because if we change the law, people will break it anyway and not get caught, but that’s fine as it’s the outcome we want anyway.

    That hardly promotes respect for the law.

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  12. SPC () says:

    To those who claim that a legal age of 18 results in alcohol being accessed by people a few years younger – the main source of supply to alcohol for those under 18 is PARENTS.

    So who is it that wants a 20 year old access to alcohol age? These same parents? Or people without teenage children – those with younger children and those with no children at home?

    Parents who have teenagers know very well those who want their social freedom will also be beyond their control and the only way to have any influence is to provide supply.

    Todays teenagers have access to jobs and incomes. They are a consumer market, handing this consumer market over to those who supply illegal products etc is to lose any influence over the way this social freedom is exercised.

    As for rationalising a 20 year age by citing Japan and the US – Japan has access to alochol for those under 20 – 31 of the 50 US states makes drinking alcohol an offence by those under 21. They have two very different systems. (note the USA has an exemption for private clubs in some states).

    Ultimately, those promoting this change merely see this as a step towards prohibition. Because no one claims this move will work on it’s own and once they can condition society to take away peoples equal rights before the law to achieve some goal, they have won half of their battle to impose their agenda on all of us.

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  13. SPC () says:

    I should have said Japan allows drinking under 20 (the law does not allow purchase under 20).

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  14. Tor Stenerud () says:

    Data for Norway is incorrect. Legal limit is 18 years to buy alcohol and access alcohol-serving venues + 20 years to buy/access liquor. It is also illegal to provide underage with alcohol.

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  15. peteremcc () says:

    stephan, Japan may have a legal age of 20 but they also sell alcohol (and cigarettes actually) in vending machines an almost every street corner.

    alcohol can be, and is, accessed by anyone who knows how to put money in a slot and press the right buttons.

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  16. peteremcc () says:

    stephan, Japan may have a legal age of 20 but they also sell alcohol (and cigarettes actually) in vending machines an almost every street corner.

    alcohol can be, and is, accessed by anyone who knows how to put money in a slot and press the right buttons.

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  17. stef () says:

    David,
    I’m pretty sure that 19 is the age by the lunar calendar which makes you 1 at the time of the birth and then your age increases by a year every lunar new year so the actual age of South Korean purchase is infact about 17-18 depending on the way the sun and moon align.

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  18. David Farrar () says:

    Tor – thanks for that. The website data must have been out of date.

    Rob – it is 18 in Quebec and Alberta. Where it differs by state I have used the lower.

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  19. brian_smaller () says:

    One thing that many wowsers forget is that youth drinking is done by youths – most of them can grow out of it. Sure, a few crash and burn, but that is nature. All the wowsers wanting to return the drinking age to 20 forget that when they were kids they went to parties with a couple of Half-Gs under their arms (and let off bangers and sky rockets with glee). They are arseholes.

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  20. blair () says:

    Switzerland is actually 16 for beer and wine, 18 for spirits

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  21. blair () says:

    Switzerland is actually 16 for beer and wine, 18 for spirits

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  22. fejj () says:

    Most of the countries David lists in his post are European. These societies have successfully intergrated alcohol for centuries and few have underage drinking problems nor have a culture of binge drinking.

    NZ is only 4 generations away from a frontier society when a good percentage of the adult male population was drunk even during daylight hours on weekdays.

    Raising the drinking age, whilst it will not magically enable NZ to catch up with its mature European cousins, will still have positive benefits. It is clear that lowering the age has resulted in a number of negative outcomes including: increase in road traffic deaths due to alcohol by U20s, more teen admissions to hospital emergency rooms due to alcohol poisoning, a larger number of out-of-control teen parties involving excessive alcohol consumption (talk to any beat cop about what weekend nights on duty are like), a lowering of the actual drinking age well into the mid teens and a noticeable increase in the binge drinking of teenage girls. Some could argue that these stats may have still worsened without the lowering but we know at least for the drink drive fatalities that until the lowering, this age cohort saw some statistically significant reductions in the road toll.

    The American experience of elevated accidents and road deaths when they reduced their MLDA from 21 to 18 and a noticeable reduction when it was again raised to 21 (confirmed by dozens of large, reputable peer reviewed studies performed by top quality academics in this field), does provide a real world case study for NZ parliamentarians to consider.

    Raising the drinking age will have some positive spin offs but this problem will never see substantial improvement unless more work is done to address the overall drinking culture in NZ’s wider society. Put bluntly, until a new generation of parents decide to no longer turn a blind eye to adolescent binge drinking with the age old dismissals like “boys will be boys” or “they’ll grow out of it” and until adult drinkers in NZ treat alcohol responsibly (like adults in Europe largely do), we can never look forward to a day when NZ teenagers can have a night out on the town and behave like their Greek or Italian counterparts.

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  23. David Farrar () says:

    Under 20 road deaths did not increase.

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  24. fejj () says:

    David

    The Land Transport Safety Authority reports 74 road deaths of 15 – 19 year old drivers in 1998 (representing 10.6% of all road fatalities). By 2005 this had leapt to 83 deaths which now represents 15.5% of overall road deaths due to the steep decline in the total road toll. This is a statistically significant 46% percentage increase.

    See: http://www.transport.govt.nz/assets/NewPDFs/NewFolder/young-driver-crash-facts-may-2006.pdf

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  25. brian_smaller () says:

    As a percentage of total road deaths sure. But taken as a percentage of people in the 15-19 year old range it is only a shade over a 10% increase. Young guys like to hoon around with their mates, so quite a few of these deaths are also those bad multiple death accidents where three or four people in one car get wasted.

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  26. fejj () says:

    With respect brian you are equivocating. The point is that whilst the overall road toll has come down, road deaths for 15 – 19 year olds went up in real terms after the drinking age was lowered and in percentage terms it went up even higher. Your ‘hooning around with mates’ arguement holds no water as this has been standard teenage male practice for decades.

    There is also no denying the other negative trends I outlined. The US experience shows us that lowering the drinking age resulted in sharply higher road deaths and accidents in U20 drivers. This trend strongly reversed itself when the age was raised back to its original. Aside from the fact that their original (and now current) drinking age is 21 vs 20 in NZ, I see little difference between the countries.

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  27. James () says:

    It is interesting that the debate here is around the problems of under-age binge drinking caused by the reduction to 18 of the purchasing limit.

    France does not have the same binge drinking culture and yet they have a limit of 16. Having lived in The Netherlands, a responsible attitude towards drinking in public is possible, drinking on the streets is quite legal, and vendors sell beer for outside in many locations.

    Surely what is needed is a responsible drinking culture, this may be harder to achieve, but the benefits to Kiwi society would be considerable. Enjoying Waitangi Day, New Year festivities in our public spaces with a beer could be an experience that we could all enjoy. Why not encourage a better society rather than another law for the poor police to enforce?

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  28. SPC () says:

    Fejj, if you go to the site mentioned by HKHam in the 5th post, you will find most of the world has the age at 18. It’s not just a European thing.

    As for the evidence of some worsening since 1999, I simply remind people of the controlled conditions required for proof of effect. It’s not as if the only change since 1999 has been the age of alcohol purchase.

    For example this year the number of students taking out student loans has decreased (despite easier pay back terms). The reason is the availability of jobs and jobs at higher pay rates for teenagers. This means, teens since 1999 have had more of their own money (and I would venture this also applies for their parents). This has an impact on disposable spending – purchase of cars, social activity and the general level of consumer spending (alcohol purchase is easier without regard for the age of purchase). Given most people under 18 are supplied by their parents, it needs to be noted that their teenagers may well be paying for it (thus the risk of any law change banning parents supplying it, might lead to them purchasing it off those involved in illegal drug supply – which probably influences their parents decision).

    Given there is no plan to make supply of alcohol to 15 to 18 year olds illegal, little in this age group would change by increasing the legal purchase age up to 20.

    As for those aged between 18 and 20, there was never any effective policing of the 20 age when it was at this age. And if the law is to be enforced this time (yeah right), it means going through sports clubs, RSA’s not just pubs.

    Effective measures which do not include discrimination against those between 18 and 20 (denying these voting age citizens equality before the law) include

    1. Making the owners/tenants of any property where teenage drinking occurs responsible for
    meeting the hospitality standards of licensed premises (meaning required parental supervision on their properties).

    It seems daft to allow those under 20 to drink in pubs with their parents but allow unsupervised drinking in their homes by those under 18.

    2. Banning drinking in cars (not just for drivers).

    3 Banning driving after midnight by those under 18 (closes parties earlier and also restricts racers).

    4. Banning drinking in all streets and parks by those under 18 unless with their parents.

    I add, that if anyone wishes to compare our road stats since 1999 as a rationale for a higher drinking age, they should compare our driving age of 15 with other countries and focus on driving law issues.

    As for the issue of household parties, this is a function of disposable income and the text messaging information age, rather than the legal purchase age. And the appropriate answer is requiring parental supervision/host responsibility on their premises.

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  29. fejj () says:

    SPC

    Your list of proposals is excellent and I agree with all of them but none of them are in this bill before Parliament. They, along with others, should be in future legislation. I have said various times simply raising the drinking age will not magically make this problem go away. But when large US federal government agencies such as NIAAA and the US Dept of Transportation estimate the ANNUAL number of lives saved since they raised the drinking age at 700 – 1000 this extrapolated to NZ = 10 – 14 lives saved then its still worth it. This is a raw extrapolation and there are other factors that contribute but I believe that this bill is a start.

    James
    The culture you refer is the goal but it took the French centuries to get there. With an innovative suite of law changes and massive education programmes I believe that we could make inroads into our drinking culture. If we could replicate with alcohol what the Smokefree environment laws have done in reducing levels of smoking even among teens then it would be a good thing.

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  30. SPC () says:

    I would rather do all of the more effective alternatives and not discriminate against those between 18 and 20.

    So if there was all of this in legislation then there is one one part of the bill that I would oppose.

    I would simply cite the Human Rights Act.

    Having the drinking age at 20 is bad law. It will never be enforced “equally for all” (it never has been and never will be).

    Only those who have no solidarity with the traditions behind the development of the Human Rights Act, could even consider inequality before the law as any answer to the drinking problems of a few.

    What next, end the right to silence, a license to police by profile (age, religious status, employment status, poliitcal creed, ethnic status, sexuality, marital status etc) – and round up the usual suspects whenever a crime is committed.

    2. Allowing those who are married to circumvent the age restriction is in breach of the no discrimination based on marital status.

    If parliament passes this into law, I hope someone takes it to the Supreme Court and has it struck down – as in breach of the Human Rights Act – which bars such discrimination.

    All over 18 are supposed to be equal before the law. The Governor General can be appealed to – to not sign this into law on this ground.

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  31. baxter () says:

    Most of the countries mentioned have little relevance to Kiwi Culture. Whatt is the age in Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, and Somalia.(Not counting Kava)

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  32. Darel () says:

    I’ve just finished reading ALAC’s “The Way We Drink 2005 – Executive Summary”.

    About 2/3 of 12-17 year olds and Adults 18+ surveyed agree with the statement “Young people shouldn’t drink alcohol until they are a responsible adult”. I think most people beleive that “adult” means 18 year olds, not 20 year olds or any other number.

    Adult, of course, is not the same concept as responsible. It might ought to be, but adults, like all people, do irresponsbile things regularly. So, I discount the leading use of the word “responsible” in the statement because I would need to be convinced that skews the response away from a general perception of what “adult” means.

    Amongst my thoughts on any law change on this issue is that the public drinking age is a law that needs to be perceived by the majority as just to work and be enforced. My view is that the pre-1999 law was perceived by a large majority of NZers as unjust. This led to, amongst other things, poor enforcement.

    The reason I am interested in the response to the ALAC survey cited above is that I interpret the response as an imperfect proxy for understanding what NZers are likey to perceive as a just law.

    I think a good majority believe 18 is the just age.

    Yes, the majority can be wrong – this post is restricted to the narrow point of what the majority view is just and relies on people agreeing that these kinds of moral laws require the majority to view them as just to succeed.

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  33. Darel () says:

    I’ve just finished reading ALAC’s “The Way We Drink 2005 – Executive Summary”.

    About 2/3 of 12-17 year olds and Adults 18+ surveyed agree with the statement “Young people shouldn’t drink alcohol until they are a responsible adult”. I think most people beleive that “adult” means 18 year olds, not 20 year olds or any other number.

    Adult, of course, is not the same concept as responsible. It might ought to be, but adults, like all people, do irresponsbile things regularly. So, I discount the leading use of the word “responsible” in the statement because I would need to be convinced that skews the response away from a general perception of what “adult” means.

    Amongst my thoughts on any law change on this issue is that the public drinking age is a law that needs to be perceived by the majority as just to work and be enforced. My view is that the pre-1999 law was perceived by a large majority of NZers as unjust. This led to, amongst other things, poor enforcement.

    The reason I am interested in the response to the ALAC survey cited above is that I interpret the response as an imperfect proxy for understanding what NZers are likey to perceive as a just law.

    I think a good majority believe 18 is the just age.

    Yes, the majority can be wrong – this post is restricted to the narrow point of what the majority view is just and relies on people agreeing that these kinds of moral laws require the majority to view them as just to succeed.

    This is a lot of argument to hang on one response, but really I am using it is an entry point into the line of reasoning I agree with. I would be very happy for people to identify further evidence supporting or refuting my line of thought.

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  34. Darel () says:

    I’ve just finished reading ALAC’s “The Way We Drink 2005 – Executive Summary”.

    About 2/3 of 12-17 year olds and Adults 18+ surveyed agree with the statement “Young people shouldn’t drink alcohol until they are a responsible adult”. I think most people beleive that “adult” means 18 year olds, not 20 year olds or any other number.

    Adult, of course, is not the same concept as responsible. It might ought to be, but adults, like all people, do irresponsbile things regularly. So, I discount the leading use of the word “responsible” in the statement because I would need to be convinced that skews the response away from a general perception of what “adult” means.

    Amongst my thoughts on any law change on this issue is that the public drinking age is a law that needs to be perceived by the majority as just to work and be enforced. My view is that the pre-1999 law was perceived by a large majority of NZers as unjust. This led to, amongst other things, poor enforcement.

    The reason I am interested in the response to the ALAC survey cited above is that I interpret the response as an imperfect proxy for understanding what NZers are likey to perceive as a just law.

    I think a good majority believe 18 is the just age.

    Yes, the majority can be wrong – this post is restricted to the narrow point of what the majority view is just and relies on people agreeing that these kinds of moral laws require the majority to view them as just to succeed.

    This is a lot of argument to hang on one response, but really I am using it is an entry point into the line of reasoning I agree with. I would be very happy for people to identify further evidence supporting or refuting my line of thought.

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  35. Darel () says:

    I’ve just finished reading ALAC’s “The Way We Drink 2005 – Executive Summary”.

    About 2/3 of 12-17 year olds and Adults 18+ surveyed agree with the statement “Young people shouldn’t drink alcohol until they are a responsible adult”. I think most people beleive that “adult” means 18 year olds, not 20 year olds or any other number.

    Adult, of course, is not the same concept as responsible. It might ought to be, but adults, like all people, do irresponsbile things regularly. So, I discount the leading use of the word “responsible” in the statement because I would need to be convinced that skews the response away from a general perception of what “adult” means.

    Amongst my thoughts on any law change on this issue is that the public drinking age is a law that needs to be perceived by the majority as just to work and be enforced. My view is that the pre-1999 law was perceived by a large majority of NZers as unjust. This led to, amongst other things, poor enforcement.

    The reason I am interested in the response to the ALAC survey cited above is that I interpret the response as an imperfect proxy for understanding what NZers are likey to perceive as a just law.

    I think a good majority believe 18 is the just age.

    Yes, the majority can be wrong – this post is restricted to the narrow point of what the majority view is just and relies on people agreeing that these kinds of moral laws require the majority to view them as just to succeed.

    This is a lot of argument to hang on one response, but really I am using it is an entry point into the line of reasoning I agree with. I would be very happy for people to identify further evidence supporting or refuting my line of thought.

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  36. Darel () says:

    I’ve just finished reading ALAC’s “The Way We Drink 2005 – Executive Summary”.

    About 2/3 of 12-17 year olds and Adults 18+ surveyed agree with the statement “Young people shouldn’t drink alcohol until they are a responsible adult”. I think most people beleive that “adult” means 18 year olds, not 20 year olds or any other number.

    Adult, of course, is not the same concept as responsible. It might ought to be, but adults, like all people, do irresponsbile things regularly. So, I discount the leading use of the word “responsible” in the statement because I would need to be convinced that skews the response away from a general perception of what “adult” means.

    Amongst my thoughts on any law change on this issue is that the public drinking age is a law that needs to be perceived by the majority as just to work and be enforced. My view is that the pre-1999 law was perceived by a large majority of NZers as unjust. This led to, amongst other things, poor enforcement.

    The reason I am interested in the response to the ALAC survey cited above is that I interpret the response as an imperfect proxy for understanding what NZers are likey to perceive as a just law.

    I think a good majority believe 18 is the just age.

    Yes, the majority can be wrong – this post is restricted to the narrow point of what the majority view is just and relies on people agreeing that these kinds of moral laws require the majority to view them as just to succeed.

    This is a lot of argument to hang on one response, but really I am using it is an entry point into the line of reasoning I agree with. I would be very happy for people to identify further evidence supporting or refuting my line of thought.

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  37. Darel () says:

    I’ve just finished reading ALAC’s “The Way We Drink 2005 – Executive Summary”.

    About 2/3 of 12-17 year olds and Adults 18+ surveyed agree with the statement “Young people shouldn’t drink alcohol until they are a responsible adult”. I think most people beleive that “adult” means 18 year olds, not 20 year olds or any other number.

    Adult, of course, is not the same concept as responsible. It might ought to be, but adults, like all people, do irresponsbile things regularly. So, I discount the leading use of the word “responsible” in the statement because I would need to be convinced that skews the response away from a general perception of what “adult” means.

    Amongst my thoughts on any law change on this issue is that the public drinking age is a law that needs to be perceived by the majority as just to work and be enforced. My view is that the pre-1999 law was perceived by a large majority of NZers as unjust. This led to, amongst other things, poor enforcement.

    The reason I am interested in the response to the ALAC survey cited above is that I interpret the response as an imperfect proxy for understanding what NZers are likey to perceive as a just law.

    I think a good majority believe 18 is the just age.

    Yes, the majority can be wrong – this post is restricted to the narrow point of what the majority view is just and relies on people agreeing that these kinds of moral laws require the majority to view them as just to succeed.

    This is a lot of argument to hang on one response, but really I am using it is an entry point into the line of reasoning I agree with. I would be very happy for people to identify further evidence supporting or refuting my line of thought.

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  38. Darel () says:

    I’ve just finished reading ALAC’s “The Way We Drink 2005 – Executive Summary”.

    About 2/3 of 12-17 year olds and Adults 18+ surveyed agree with the statement “Young people shouldn’t drink alcohol until they are a responsible adult”. I think most people believe that “adult” means 18 year olds, not 20 year olds or any other number.

    Adult, of course, is not the same concept as responsible. It might ought to be, but adults, like all people, do irresponsible things regularly. So, I discount the leading use of the word “responsible” in the statement because I would need to be convinced that skews the response away from a general perception of what “adult” means.

    Amongst my thoughts on any law change on this issue is that the public drinking age is a law that needs to be perceived by the majority as just to work and be enforced. My view is that the pre-1999 law was perceived by a large majority of NZers as unjust. This led to, amongst other things, poor enforcement.

    The reason I am interested in the response to the ALAC survey cited above is that I interpret the response as an imperfect proxy for understanding what NZers are likely to perceive as a just law.

    I think a good majority believes 18 is the just age.

    Yes, the majority can be wrong – this post is restricted to the narrow point of what the majority view is just and relies on people agreeing that these kinds of moral laws require the majority to view them as just to succeed.

    This is a lot of argument to hang on one response, but really I am using it is an entry point into the line of reasoning I agree with. I would be very happy for people to identify further evidence supporting or refuting my line of thought.

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  39. burt () says:

    Darel,

    I appreciate it’s not your question, but the question “Young people shouldn’t drink alcohol until they are a responsible adult” actually explains a lot of the problem.

    Young people should learn to drink in a responsible manner, by following good example, while becoming a young adult.

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  40. baxter () says:

    SPC…I believe that reform of the liquor laws should be enacted to maintain the ‘Queen’s Peace’BY lowering the barrier that peace has been threatened as most dramatically illustrated by the weekly violent murders in South Auckland and other teenage mayhem up and down the country. The trouble is not with 18-20 year olds. They have always frequented bars with the knowledge that providing they behave they will not be troubled.Now of course there is no such stricture on their behaviour in bars as they have a legal right to be there and identifying 16-17 yearold as under 18 is even more difficult then identifying 18 year old as 20. As for your suggestion of race-based enforcement, No, I believe in enforcing laws against those who break them.

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  41. Tracey () says:

    While on the subject of reversing mistakes, why haven’t they had another petition for reversing the prostition law. That’s another one where you can find 12 year olds out on the street. While they are in the process of protecting our youth against bad alcohol habits, never mind they can pop a party pill and get paid for having sex. I remember Helen Clark and Don Brash saying it was a conscience vote, I want to know who’s conscience they were using!!!

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  42. Tracey () says:

    While on the subject of reversing mistakes, why haven’t they had another petition for reversing the prostition law. That’s another one where you can find 12 year olds out on the street. While they are in the process of protecting our youth against bad alcohol habits, never mind they can pop a party pill and get paid for having sex. I remember Helen Clark and Don Brash saying it was a conscience vote, I want to know who’s conscience they were using!!!

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  43. Tracey () says:

    While on the subject of reversing mistakes, why haven’t they had another petition for reversing the prostition law. That’s another one where you can find 12 year olds out on the street. While they are in the process of protecting our youth against bad alcohol habits, never mind they can pop a party pill and get paid for having sex. I remember Helen Clark and Don Brash saying it was a conscience vote, I want to know who’s conscience they were using!!!

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  44. Tracey () says:

    While on the subject of reversing mistakes, why haven’t they had another petition for reversing the prostition law. That’s another one where you can find 12 year olds out on the street. While they are in the process of protecting our youth against bad alcohol habits, never mind they can pop a party pill and get paid for having sex. I remember Helen Clark and Don Brash saying it was a conscience vote, I want to know who’s conscience they were using!!!

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  45. Tracey () says:

    While on the subject of reversing mistakes, why haven’t they had another petition for reversing the prostition law. That’s another one where you can find 12 year olds out on the street. While they are in the process of protecting our youth against bad alcohol habits, never mind they can pop a party pill and get paid for having sex. I remember Helen Clark and Don Brash saying it was a conscience vote, I want to know who’s conscience they were using!!!

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  46. tracey () says:

    While on the subject of reversing mistakes, why haven’t they had another petition for reversing the prostition law. That’s another one where you can find 12 year olds out on the street. While they are in the process of protecting our youth against bad alcohol habits, never mind they can pop a party pill and get paid for having sex. I remember Helen Clark and Don Brash saying it was a conscience vote, I want to know who’s conscience they were using!!!

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  47. Dave () says:

    Just because something works overseas… doesn’t mean it works here.

    Surely as the sun rises every morning (which it still does), we have a binge drinking problem with youth. This problem may or may not exist in other countries.

    We can talk all we like about it – raising the drinking age back to 20 may not fix it, but we’re trying… Does anyone have any better ideas?

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  48. Darel () says:

    Burt, I agree with you comment: “Young people should learn to drink in a responsible manner, by following good example, while becoming a young adult.” That is part of an approach to answer Dave’s question “Does anyone have any better ideas?”.

    Also enforcement of the law is useful for all kinds of reasons not least I beleieve the bulk of NZers believe it is just to strictly (in both the moral and legal sense)implement the current law.

    ALAC’s “The Way We Drink 2005 – Executive Summary” argues that their social marketing approach has changed attitudes for both young people (12 – 17) and adult (18+) between 2003 and 2005.

    This did work/ is working for drinking and driving. I was involved in this between 1993 and 1995. It was clear the trends were going in the right direction then. I get the sense from media reports, but have not done the reading to back this up, that the residual problems with drink driving are at the margins where behaviour is unable to be changed by attitude but need to changed by coercion.

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  49. Esther () says:

    I live in South Korea. The legal age for drinking is 19 by the solar calendar. Not the lunar. By the lunar calendar, you’re 20-21 depending on your birthday. I came to uni here when I was 18 so I’m sure.

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  50. Esther () says:

    I live in South Korea. The legal age for drinking is 19 by the solar calendar. Not the lunar. By the lunar calendar, you’re 20-21 depending on your birthday. I came to uni here when I was 18 so I’m sure.

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