Hopeful common sense on youth drinking

July 5th, 2010 at 7:30 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Government is considering making it unlawful for adults to give to young people without their parents’ consent.

At present, under-18s can be given liquor without consent if they are in private homes or at private functions.

Justice Minister says parental consent is one of the liquor issues he is looking at but stresses that a change is not a certainty.

“This is a really delicate balance because National is not in the business of getting into people’s homes on issues like this and telling them how to run their lives,” he said last night.

“But the sheer proliferation of outlets and the time that liquor is now available definitely changes the framing of this debate.”

Mr Power said parents had asked for such a move to help deal with teenage drinking. “I do think there is starting to emerge a view from parents that they would like some more assistance from the law to be able to have a firmer view on how their children are supplied with alcohol.”

At present it is totally legal for an adult to give a 14 year old a bottle of vodka. It is also totally legal for that 14 year old to share it with his or her friends. And they can drink that bottle of vodka in public view on the front lawn of a private residence, and the Police can do nothing about it.

I am supportive of the Government bringing in law changes to make it illegal to supply alcohol to under 18 year olds. The tougher issue is how to define the exceptions. Most people would support a parental exception- you can argue about whether it should be a total exception, or only for kids over a certain age (say 14) and also whether there should be a requirement for any alcohol supplied to be done so in a “responsible” manner.

The other issue is whether parents can authorise another adult (ie parents of a friend) to legally supply alcohol, and does such consent need to be in writing, or implied. In this case one would also expect any supply to be done responsibly, which probably means an adult must supervise – and that adult can be held legally liable for any irresponsible drinking (such as that which has led to 10 teenagers drinking themselves to death).

A law which makes it illegal to supply alcohol to 14 year olds will be far more effective, than making it illegal for  19 year olds to have a glass of wine in a restaurant over dinner.

To that end it was pleasing to see Simon Power state on Q+A that if there was a conscience vote on the purchase age, he would vote to keep it 18.

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70 Responses to “Hopeful common sense on youth drinking”

  1. hj (6,336 comments) says:

    Agree with Gary McCormack > the panel Jim Moira.

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  2. flipper (3,537 comments) says:

    Nice piece DPF…..and sensible approach.
    The real danger in this matter is taking people (and DimPost campaigns) like Dalzeil seriously.
    Her appearance yesterday on Q + A was distrubing. She epitomises the Labour “Nanny State” approach.
    She and the LC quote figures. But where is the peer reviewed data (as opposed to incidental assertions)
    to support them?
    In short, Dalzeil, “Where are your references” ?

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  3. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    Certainly some better quality thinking in here.

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  4. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    People are dreaming if they think this is going to change New Zealand’s big drinking culture. Making alcohol more unobtainable? That ain’t going to do a thing to discourage binge drinking -instead, I believe it will more likely have the effect of encouraging it, particularly amongst young people, by making alcohol seem that much cooler. Protect fools from the world and you create a world full of fools!

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  5. tvb (4,194 comments) says:

    It should be illegal to supply a minor with alcohol. I always refuse a minor alcohol. Parents think it is ok for their kids to drink even at a very early age. I think this is wrong. It does not do a young person any harm to socialise without alcohol even when others are drinking.

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  6. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    tvb, don’t you think that, if we go around trying to prevent minors drinking, it’s only going to make them want to do it more?

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  7. andrei (2,499 comments) says:

    Hmmmmm

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  8. Brian Smaller (3,983 comments) says:

    tvb – I supply my 14 year old son with alcohol on occasion. Especially after he has helped me move, cut and stack two trailer loads of wood and built a new chicken run. It all depends on the situation mate.

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  9. Brian Smaller (3,983 comments) says:

    Hmmmmm.

    DPF is an adult

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  10. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    That’s your decision as a parent, Brian, but I think 14 is far too young to be consuming alcohol.

    Tvb, if you think passing a law is going to work, please give me your address. I will make random visits, including powers of entry, to see if you’re supplying your kids with alcohol, and compel your children to answer questions on the issue.

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  11. toad (3,669 comments) says:

    Power makes a good point when he says: “But the sheer proliferation of outlets and the time that liquor is now available definitely changes the framing of this debate.”

    Acess to alcohol was relaxed at the same time as the drinking age was reduced, and I think the increased access has far more to do with the increasing abuse of alcohol among young people than the purchase age does. I hope Power proposes to do something to restict access generally, not just to young people – do we really need to be able to walk into a supermarket and buy a box of beer at midnight?

    The suggestion of requiring parental consent for supply to minors is a good one.

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  12. Caleb (467 comments) says:

    ban the smokes, drinking and cruising, then the youth will flock to the libraries for entertainment.

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  13. Caleb (467 comments) says:

    toad

    access = price

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  14. david (2,531 comments) says:

    I suspect that a higher degree of caution would be exhibited by adults if they were made personally liable for the outcome. No ifs, buts or maybes, you give a kid alcohol, you take responsibility for the consequences. And yes, there will still be idiots who give their kids (or someone elses kids) a bottle of vodka but it would only take a couple of “manslaughter by association” jailings and the populace would wake up pretty quickly.

    Brian Smaller could still shout his son a beer after a day’s work in the salt mines but the screw would take another turn in the process of erecting the “personal reponsibility” sign over NZ

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  15. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    do we really need to be able to walk into a supermarket and buy a box of beer at midnight

    Yes. If for no other reason than personal liberty

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  16. Pete George (22,745 comments) says:

    I’m totally against making it illegal for a parent giving their kids alcohol. Teaching sensible drinking habits is important, and there is no harm in giving a 10 year old a sip of your wine or beer, or giving a 13 year old a glass of beer.

    Bruce Robertson was more extreme, he suggested making it illegal to supply anyone under 18. That is nuts unless you want to teach kids nothing but to wait until they go beserk in bars as soon as they get to 18.

    What is being suggested with more legal restrictions is again limiting everyone because a few are a problem (albeit quite a big few).

    Parent’s consent is very difficult – kids are very good at wangling their way around things. They manage it with skiving off school, how many kids have written their own note to the teacher? But it is a major concern for parents that when they think their teenager is staying with a friend to watch a movie but a bunch of kids have organised a piss-up somewhere else where a kid has pliant parents – or the parents are away for the weekend.

    NO EASY SOLUTIONS! There is a widespread culture that getting pissed is the thing to achieve. Even if parents do things right the kids learn it off other kids. And from marketing – that is one area that social responsibility needs to be addressed.

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  17. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    @Caleb, right on, man. I doubt much thinking has gone into the alternatives that young people will actually pursue, should we start to cut down on what they’re allowed to do.

    @Krazykiwi, I’m with you on that one. Unfortunately, personal liberty isn’t well valued by NZers in this and many other NZ political debates. As the quote goes, that which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly.

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  18. questlove (242 comments) says:

    It is odd that there is no minimum drinking age in New Zealand.

    Though the option of parents supervising their children (14+)? drinking on private residence shouldn’t be taken away. It’s important that children learn how to drink responsibly.

    The crux of the matter is the attitudes of society towards alcohol and drunkenness.

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  19. backster (2,073 comments) says:

    It seems to me that what is proposed is tinkering around the edges which will be ineffective. There is indication that the changes will come about by conscience vote. (Who would trust the conscience of Chris Carter, Len Brown or any of the worst troughers)… The age level should be decided by referendum. Alco pops should be banned altogether, liquor outlets should be restricted.

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  20. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    (It may be stating the bleeding obvious, but) I think there are no simple answers to this issue. There is a quite a variance in even the small number of views above – although all seem to be in agreement that something should be done.

    I agree with the general thrust of DPF’s reasoning, but I think we also need to ensure we don’t go too far with the Nanny State directives to parents on how they parent.

    I would suggest no legislated drinking age under parental supervision or authority, so long as that drinking is still on private property (as today) AND that it is responsibly managed – onus of responsibility on the parent or supervising adults.

    A nightmare to draft perhaps, but it wouldn’t unreasonably intrude on parents’ rights to decide how to parent (reasonably) and it would also place the onus of responsibility back on them – simply, if you want to let your children drink, you are responsible for the outcomes and consequences.

    As for the purchase age, I would revert to the previous age restrictions; 20 or 18 in company of parent or guardian in restaurant. Yes I acknowledge this creates a situation where a child under 18 can have a drink with their parent at home but not in a restaurant. I think it is workable (it certainly was for decades before the purchasing age was dropped to 18.)

    The argument, expressed in earlier discussion threads, about the misalignment of rights and privileges (e.g. being able to vote or die in combat but not being able to drink in bars) is specious. The collection of personal rights and privileges have never been fully aligned and never will be. For example, if the purchase age was to remain at 18 do those that argue with my example above believe that we should therefore lift the age of sexual consent and the driving age to 18 also?? That would be an alignment of rights. Or perhaps we should drop the alcohol purchasing age to 16 so it’s legal to have a shag after your beer?
    In my opinion the drop in the alcohol purchase age to 18 represents a failed social experiment. We weren’t mature enough to have open access to alcohol when I was 18 and it would seem nothing has changed in the intervening 28 years.

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  21. Pete George (22,745 comments) says:

    Alco pops are a problem, but banning them will just mean those chasing the biggest bangup for the buck will switch to something else. It is more tinkering.

    Looking to government to legislate to fix the problem is the “easy” solution, but it’s not, it’s failing to take responsibility and unlikley to change much. The community as a whole needs to take a damn hard look at the whole social culture around boozing and look for social solutions. Not easy but necessary if we want things to change.

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  22. Caleb (467 comments) says:

    i think the best you can do is limit the damage.

    off license age to 20 and maybe a tax for off license sales ( might seem unfair but alcohol costs big time ).

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  23. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    If people want to drink, it’s a devils own job to stop them. Everyone wants to stop the supply of alcohol to minors, why not try to reduce the demand, instead? That will never come by making drinking a more prestigious activity by restricting those that can do it.

    Everyone seems to agree NZ has an unhealthy culture of binge drinking. The proposed solutions appear myopic, at best.

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  24. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    @mjwilknz

    Something does not become prestigious because it is not freely available. It may, perhaps, become desirable to the rebellious but that is more a question of pushing boundaries and breaking socirety’s rules than an elevated prestige of the product.

    Doing nothing in the face of something that plainly isn’t working – that is myopic

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  25. Boloni (63 comments) says:

    Donf stop at reducing outlets.cut it out altegether,worked a treat in America.

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  26. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    Agreed, bhudson. I do not suggest things that are free become prestigious. Rather, I suggest that things become prestigious because the Government makes them more difficult to get! :-)

    I’m not expounding that the Government do nothing – I agree the approach of many NZs to drinking is problematic. However, what I question is that we, or at least our government, should respond by attempting to control more of people’s drinking decisions.

    Binge drinking is much less of a problem in France, where underage drinking is viewed much less suspiciously. I don’t suggest France is perfect (see the link below), but I question whether more control is what’s appropriate, here.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1576168/France-fears-binge-drinking-bug-has-arrived.html

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  27. Viking2 (11,125 comments) says:

    ban the smokes, drinking and cruising, then the youth will flock to the libraries for entertainment.

    Oh No!!! Philu lurks there. do you want their lives run by full stops.
    Kinda appropriate with all this banning this and that.

    Making parents responsible sounds like the smacking law. doesn’t it.
    Kids raid booze cabinet, (and they do, its a challange), kids get shitfaced, neighbour complains, along comes MR Plod (oh no he’s retiring isn’t he?), charge results. Now along comes that nice man MR KEY and tells us that if Mr Plod is too hard on us he will change the law again.
    I think wev’e heard all that before.
    With kids the isue is training them with alcopops. The nicest thing Erceg ever did was fall out of the sky, for he is responsible for development of the alcopops and inflicting them upon society in NZ. The shame is that his outfit haven’t quite gone broke yet.
    Alcopops are offensive and target the young with the view to create dependency. Lower the sugar levels and lower the alcohol levels and we may see some change.
    But at the end of the day its about a persons responsibility. Unfortunately teenagers are programmed to test the boundaries and always have and always will.

    Much of this comes down to money and with teenagers having so much to spend, alcohol seems like a fun choice. Stop giving teenagers so much state assisted money.

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  28. Pete George (22,745 comments) says:

    It’s ironic that now there are far more options in sport, entertainment and pastimes for all including youth that trashing oneself seems to have such an attraction. Is marketing a significant factor?

    Some advertising:
    - a fridge full of beer is a bloke’s ambition
    - stealing a bus for a booze cruise is fun
    - a brewery of hot women (encouraging you to get pissed so you can’t get it up anyway)

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  29. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    To paraphrase:

    “National is not in the business of getting into people’s homes on issues like this and telling them how to run their lives. However, National intends to get into people’s homes on issues like this and telling them how to run their lives.”

    Thank you sir, please may I have another?

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  30. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Hilarious watching the TV1 reporter last night suprised by the Auckland liquor store owner supporting Power’s crack down on issuing new licenses. Has nobody in media done a bit of econ 101?

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  31. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    Viking2, so basically you’re saying we should lock our kids up and never let them out of the dungeon, huh? Nice one – a sure-fire way for raising healthy, responsible children that is.

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  32. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    Ben, to borrow from Stephen Whittington’s speech at a recent Wgtn debate on alcohol restrictions, it’s all about Baptists and Bootleggers!

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  33. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    @mjwilknz

    The trouble with changing the binge drinking habit is that it is ingrained into our Koiwoi Kulcha. You can’t legislate it out and generations seem to show it’s not going to evolve out either.

    I don’t think you would find too much disagreement that it is a problem, however I don’t think anyone has offered any practical, workable solutions to change it. (I certainly don’t pretend to have the answers to that problem.) The latest round of ALAC ads seem a practical and ‘non-wowserish’ educational approach, but I doubt they are going to result in a sea change now or in the near future.

    So what we have instead are some imperfect band aids to help to ameliorate a problem that might otherwise seem unsolvable. Better to take those actions as steps along the way rather than risk sitting back, doing nothing and sliding further downhill while waiting/looking for the perfect solution.

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  34. MT_Tinman (2,984 comments) says:

    Almost every case I’ve seen of young people abusing (as opposed to simply enjoying the many benefits of) alcohol have involved the illegal obtaining of the alcohol and the quick and surreptitious consummation of that alcohol in order to avoid detection and subsequent confiscation.

    Like most ill-thought out meddling by bloody do-gooders this move by Power and co. will have the opposite effect to the stated objective and more, not less young people will harm or kill themselves by doing the one thing young people will always do – experimenting with the forbidden.

    This government as a chance to actually do some good by initiating education programs aimed at changing the way people react to public drunkenness much the same as previous governments did with drunken driving.

    Only education accompanied by a mature view of alcohol that recognises it’s great benefits will achieve this, banning it simply makes it more desirable

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  35. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    Thanks, bhudson. I absolutely agree; our culture is not something that will change overnight. Still, it would be very foolish of the Government to take steps that aren’t in the right direction to improve our culture. I would suggest that placing greater controls on young people drinking is a step in the wrong direction.

    If the Government is successful at controlling the supply of alcohol to minors, I would not be at all surprised if minors just start brewing their own. Some might even be doing so already. That would be a much worse situation, I believe, than our current one.

    What would be a better step, you ask. Greater intolerance for drunkenness amongst all ages, not just young people, is an obvious one. That will be much less politically palatable than rules getting tough on young people, but if politicians are serious about improving our culture at all levels of society, I don’t see much alternative.

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  36. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    MT_Tinman, really, education is all that it takes? You’ll understand if I’m a little sceptical. If it happens in concert with us locking up a few 40 year olds for public drunkenness, I might have a little more faith, though.

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  37. David in Chch (508 comments) says:

    Responsible drinking _can_ be learned. My father allowed me to have a beer or a glass of wine _at home_ when I was a teenager. I never made a habit of binge drinking, and the one or two times I over-indulged made me think twice about doing so again.

    I have taken the same approach with my daughters. Their mother and I allowed them a glass of wine (or beer) at home. What’s interesting is that they came to recognise it then as nothing special; one of them drinks alcoholic beverages in moderation, while the other hardly drinks anything alcoholic at all.

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  38. David in Chch (508 comments) says:

    Oh, and as a byproduct, they learned that we will trust them to make good decisions, and they have earned that trust time and again.

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  39. MT_Tinman (2,984 comments) says:

    mjwilknz, scepticism is good, keep it up.

    Only making public drunkenness socially unacceptable (for any age) will work.

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  40. Pete George (22,745 comments) says:

    Greater intolerance for drunkenness amongst all ages, not just young people, is an obvious one.

    Everyone who gets pissed knows that they will probably feel crook afterwards.
    Everyone who sees a friend or acquaintance spew or piss their pants or get coerced into unwanted sex knows the risks.
    Everyone who sees a parent pissed knows how stupid it looks.
    Everyone who is assaulted by a pissed parent knows the danger.
    Everyone who sees parent’s relationships ruined by booze knows the problems.
    Every kid who sees a crate of beer come home instead of groceries knows the hunger.
    But many of us still strive to get pissed, often after many years or decades of not learning our own lesson.

    Maybe that’s what we should be looking into.

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  41. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    MT_Tinman, I have been somewhat surprised by how quickly the social unacceptability of smoking has reduced following the introduction of no-smoking-in-pubs rules. I recently saw even Auckland Zoo was looking to ban it outdoors.

    Obviously, banning drinking, outright, in public places would be inappropriate in the extreme. What are your thoughts on a more appropriate way of restricting public drunkenness? I’m not seriously suggesting it, but could we, for instance, criminalise vommitting in public?

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  42. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    MT_Tinman, I have been somewhat surprised by how quickly the social acceptability of smoking has reduced following the introduction of no-smoking-in-pubs rules. I recently saw even Auckland Zoo was looking to ban it outdoors.

    Obviously, banning drinking, outright, in public places would be inappropriate in the extreme. What are your thoughts on a more appropriate way of restricting public drunkenness? I’m not seriously suggesting it, but could we, for instance, criminalise vommitting in public?

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  43. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    mjwilknz & MT_Tinman

    Absolutely agree on making public drunkeness unacceptable for any age.

    My view is that we should do that as well as the other changes I suggested (including the focus on education that have been raised.) I don’t see this as oppressing youth, but as tangible ways to prevent some of the behavioural issues we see today. (But democracies allow for differences in opinion.)

    I’m afraid I think kids are too fundamentally lazy to try brewing their own – I can’t recall the last time I saw a teenager get off their arse to do anything (I include my own in that statement.)

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  44. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    bhudson, you’re questioning when a teenager will get off his (or her) arse to look cool in front of their mates? Come on, mate, you can’t be serious can you?

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  45. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    mjwilknz,

    Home brewing was around before the drinking age was dropped to 18. There wasn’t a great deal of it going on by 18-19 year olds that I was ever aware of – more the 30+ men who wanted cheaper beer. It didn’t happen then and I doubt it would happen now.

    So yes, I am serious. What I think they would do – which is what they are very good at (and again I include my own children) – is whinge about it.

    In any case, even under a home brewing example, the drinking would most likely occur on private property. The suggestion (certainly mine) is that would be legal under parental supervision or with parent authority (and other adult supervision.) The responsibility would rest with the parents, allowing them to parent according to their judgement and making them accountable for the consequences.

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  46. MT_Tinman (2,984 comments) says:

    MJWilknz What is this compulsion to ban things?

    Why not just teach people, particularly young people, to understand that life for everyone will be far nicer if alcohol is used responsibly?

    Making public drunkenness socially unacceptable is part of this.

    As an aside I doubt the banning of smoking in public/work places has converted a single person to the cause, it has just provided yet another outlet for the uninformed, nasty, small-minded, I-know-best lowlifes to interfere with other people’s happiness.

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  47. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    bhudson, I was an 18 year old student when the drinking age was 20. The only reason home brewing wasn’t especially important (I contend that it did certainly exist) was that there were loopholes for Africa! The key one was that 18 years old could drink with a meal, meaning the pubs got away with issuing glorious things called “meal tickets”, essentially proof that you’d bought a meal and so were allowed to buy alcohol. So 18 and 19 year olds were able to drink with their 20 year old mates, as long as they bought a meal ticket, too (which was essentially free money to the pub).

    I’m not seriously suggesting home brewing will take off. Instead, I’m suggesting that, if people want to drink, they will find a way to, no matter what the rules. Sensible rules will take that into account. Insensible ones, such as preventing under 20s from buying alchohol won’t!

    Turning to your legal authority suggestion, who do you suggest should have legal authority to allow young people to drink? Just parents? What about uncles and aunties? If you allow any one over 20 to give those under 20 access to drink, then whammo, you’ve just created another loop-hole. My end point is, if people want to drink, it’s a devils own job to stop them.

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  48. jks (30 comments) says:

    I can understand the call to ban alcopops, most of them are quite sweet, and don’t really taste much like alcohol. The problem is though, the alternative is buying a bottle of vodka and some fizzy drink and mixing drinks yourself. The problem with that, is you can never be truly sure how much alcohol is in your drink – and therefore what effect it will have. From personal experience I can say that can end up far more dangerous than drinking a few alcopops, where at least they come in a standardised unit and there is some awareness just how much alcohol is in the drink.

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  49. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    MT_Tinman, a very fair question. The truth is, I have no compulsion to ban things. I wasn’t a fan of the no-smoking-in-pubs rules, in spite of being a non-smoker, when they were first introduced. I was just remarking on how quickly the rules changed our culture.

    If our culture is the problem, I don’t believe education, on its own, is enough to change it. Somewhere down the line, someone’s got to have the balls to stand up and say (to everyone, not just young people), we really don’t want you behaving in this way and, if you do, this is what will happen.

    I’m not sure what you mean in regard to converting people to the quote unquote cause. I’m no fan of governments deciding how people should act. As a non-smoker, though, I’ll point out how much nicer it is now to spend an evening in town than it ever used to be. I guess the smoking case has made me realise that, although it may be difficult to do so sensibly or regularly, it isn’t impossible to change a country’s culture.

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  50. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    jks, agreed. It’s especially difficult to know how much alcohol is in a drink if you weren’t the one to mix in, in the first place.

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  51. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    mjwilknz,

    On the question of authorisation – parents and parents only. That way they can be held accountable. Where they give authorisation and are not present themselves, there must be adult supervision. The parents remain responsible.

    That way the parents are responsible for what they allow their child to do directly, and also indirectly under the supervision of other adults with their permission. Rather places the onus on parents to parent responsibly (while allowing them latitude to exercise their own judgement, rather than having the Nanny State dictate everything to them.)

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  52. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    bhudson, I have no idea how you intend to make such a policy workable. Do you want all drivers’ licences to show one’s offspring, as well as their age, and all restaurants and pubs to check licences when anyone (at all) buys a drink?

    Although you say you’d rather not have a Nanny State that dictates everything, that sounds very much like what you’re going to end up with. The roads to hell are paved with good intentions!

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  53. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    mjwilknz,

    The question of driver’s licenses to show offspring for rastaurants and bars is not relevant as the parental authorised drinking would be limited to private property (as is the case now for under 18′s).

    I will repost earlier content to make it clearer:

    “I would suggest no legislated drinking age under parental supervision or authority, so long as that drinking is still on private property (as today) AND that it is responsibly managed – onus of responsibility on the parent or supervising adults.

    A nightmare to draft perhaps, but it wouldn’t unreasonably intrude on parents’ rights to decide how to parent (reasonably) and it would also place the onus of responsibility back on them – simply, if you want to let your children drink, you are responsible for the outcomes and consequences.”

    The change is not about vetting people when they take an action (in this case, having a drink) but providing parents with the flexibility to exercise some judgement in their parenting, while providing means to enforce the responsibility that is contingent with that.

    this is not some great revolutionary approach – it merely places some caveats around the position that exists today. And does so in a way which does not limit (parental) flexibility but which does impose contingent responsibilities

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  54. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    bhudson, a fair reply, my apologies for misunderstanding exactly what you were getting at. However, I still struggle to believe your system is workable.

    Who is a responsible adult? Anyone over what 20 years old? You mean under 20s can drink if they have their 21 year old siblings around? Maybe you mean anyone deemed the responsible adult is legally liable if someone drinks to excess and hurts themselves or someone else. Sounds to me like you’re going to end up with a lot of people in court because you’re holding them responsible for the actions of their slightly younger siblings’ friends. Whichever way you look at it, we’re going to end up by a) convicting otherwise law-abiding people for breaches of some poorly designed, ineffective law and/or b) excessive, “Nanny State” rules controlling behaviour some politician in Wellington has deemed unlawful.

    I’m battling to see how such a situation is superior to one of encouraging responsible drinking by treating young people like adults. If you’re not happy with the drinking behaviour of adults, then treat that problem directly – don’t think you can fix it by treating young people differently.

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  55. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    On further reflection, bhudson, I guess it’s conceivable a system of holding anyone deemed a responsible adult liable for all activity that occurs at a location re:alcohol. Draconian, but still conceivable. However, won’t young people just start drinking in places where there’s no responsible adult? That young bloke, James Webster, very unfortunately died after drinking a bottle of vodka in a car outside a party. I don’t think anyone feels good about that.

    The unavoidable point is, if the young or old want to drink. it’s a very difficult job to try and stop them.

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  56. Pete George (22,745 comments) says:

    unfortunately died after drinking a bottle of vodka in a car outside a party.

    I was told yesterday that over sixty years ago my father was charged and convicted for having alcohol in his car outside a dance. That’s what the guys often did then (or hid it in the tussocks a “safe” distance from the hall).

    The unavoidable point is, if the young or old want to drink. it’s a very difficult job to try and stop them.

    Then and now. And probably centuries and millenia earlier as well.

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  57. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    Pete, do you know if it was just because he was a young person or because he was umm… loitering with a bottle of alcohol? That is, is it an example of an attempt to tackle society’s ills generally or young people’s specifically?

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  58. maurieo (95 comments) says:

    It should be illegal for any person to be intoxicated any time, anywhere regardless of their age. (Obvious debate re level of intoxication)
    Give the police the powers to lock up and fine intoxicated people. Don’t let them out until they have paid the fine.
    Sensible policing may see some people “sent home to bed with a warning” but anyone acting up, showing a violent disposition or otherwise being anti social just lock them up. Domestic violence situations where drink is involved lock up the drunks.
    In some of the suggested changes above I can see a scenario where a 14 year having had a quite beer or two at home could be arrested at a home where the inebriated parents can lawfully carry on drinking.
    Lock up the drunks and leave the responsible drinkers to carry on socialising.
    Reward those doing the right thing by allowing them to continue.

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  59. Pete George (22,745 comments) says:

    mjwilknz, I was told that after every dance finished there was an exodus of men from the hall to have a top up. My father was in his mid twenties then.

    I know many more drinking stories from ‘the old days” where after hours drinking was normal, kids (and sometimes wives) were let outside pubs in cars waiting, and that’s after the days of the six o’clock swill.

    New Zealand has a history of drinking excessively. Some things change – for example, I remember yard glasses, now the seem to prefer a funnel and tube which is more dangerous because the drinker isn’t controlling the intake, or should I say, is controlling it less.

    The methods and mixes may have changed, but the glorification and acceptance of getting pissed remains.

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  60. Nefarious (533 comments) says:

    Define drunk you plank.

    Now who were we locking up again?

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  61. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    Pete, I guess cultures only change slowly. However, it’s unhelpful if rules are framed without reference to culture.

    Just found a wikipedia page with details of the (il)legality of drinking in public in English speaking countries:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_intoxication

    Maurieo, I assume you’re a fan of NZ introducing greater restrictions around public drunkeness.

    Nefarious, being drunk isn’t defined, at least on the above webpage. I imagine drunk and disorderly is a more useful phrase, should one entertain such laws.

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  62. maurieo (95 comments) says:

    To me the problem is individuals who drink to much and cause problems – drunk and disorderly if you like
    Punish those who drink to much and cause problems and leave the rest of us alone
    I would like to see the existing restrictions on public drunkeness policed and increased if deemed necessary particularly for those causing problems.
    I would like to see restrictions on drunks who are causing problems wether in public or not, regardless of age.

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  63. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    Maureio, there are already restrictions on drunks causing problems, regardless of age or location – it’s called our criminal justice system. That is, drunkenness is not a defence to charges made under our system.

    The wikipedia page shows there are few existing restrictions on public drunkenness in this country so I guess we’re discussing whether or not to introduce them. If we introduce controls on public drunkenness, then whoever drinks too much in public gets in trouble whether or not they’re causing problems. These are high stakes we’re dealing with, let’s not beat about the bush.

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  64. maurieo (95 comments) says:

    I am in favour of controls on public drunkenness, the abusers of alcohol should pay the price with their freedom and cash. I would like to think that the police could use a little discretion where some 80 year old grandmother is weaving her way home from the local brasserie on her mobility scooter however if zero tolerance were what was deemed necessary then lock her up. We need to perhaps tackle the extremes first and look at the people in the downtown drinking areas late at night, get the drunks off the street and let the sensible people party on. In the case of large parties on unlicensed premises the police may deem it necessary to have a zero tolerance policy and lock up all the drunks to stop a sitiation developing. There should be legal consequemces for people who regularly abuse alcohol, clearly a hangover and ridicule are not working. Age limits, opening hours and location restrictions are not going to stop people drinking to much, getting locked up and fined if you abuse alcohol will severly diminish your ability to get more alcohol in the short term and might just send a message that it is not OK to behave in this way.

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  65. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    Maureio, you don’t think all that’s going a little far?

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  66. Johnboy (14,876 comments) says:

    THE HORSE AND MULE LIVE THIRTY YEARS
    AND NOTHING KNOW OF WINE OR BEERS
    THE GOAT AND SHEEP AT TWENTY DIE
    AND NEVER A TASTE OF SCOTCH OR RYE
    THE COW DRINKS WATER BY THE TON
    AND AT 18 IS MOSTLY DONE
    THE DOG AT 16 CASHES IN
    WITHOUT THE AID OF RUM OR GIN
    THE CAT IN MILK AND WATER SOAKS
    AND THEN IN 12 SHORT YEARS IT CROAKS
    THE MODEST SOBER BONE DRY HEN
    LAYS EGGS FOR NOGS THEN DIES AT 10
    ALL ANIMALS ARE STRICTLY DRY
    THEY SINLESS LIVE AND SWIFTLY DIE.
    BUT SINFUL GINFUL RUM SOAKED MEN
    SURVIVE FOR THREE SCORE YEARS AND TEN
    AND SOME OF US THE MIGHTY FEW
    STAY PICKLED TILL WE’RE 92

    Stop picking on my only remaining pleasure you bloody bunch of wowser’s !!…..(eh)?…

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  67. mjwilknz (612 comments) says:

    Love the poem, Johnboy. You’re more than welcome to your pleasure, just keep it indoors, eh? :-)

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  68. Tauhei Notts (1,602 comments) says:

    During summer my wife and I frequently take a chilled bottle of wine on our picnics; be they to the beach or the lake. Now several blogsters here will want to taint my wife and I as the devil incarnate.
    I enjoy a glass of good quality wine with my picnic lunch. And if I have too much she complains bitterly. Not because I am slightly intoxicated, but because I have not left enough for her.

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  69. maurieo (95 comments) says:

    Hardly irresponsible, Take two bottles and peacefully sleep it off before going home.

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  70. Johnboy (14,876 comments) says:

    “I enjoy a glass of good quality wine with my picnic lunch. And if I have too much she complains bitterly. Not because I am slightly intoxicated, but because I have not left enough for her.”

    Should that be. “she complains bitterly, because I have not enough left for her.” (Due to the excess of wine of course). :)

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