New law in drinking age limit on the cards

2015-06-03 06:00



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CELEBRATING your 18th birthday with a night out on the town could be a thing of the past following the state proposal to increase the drinking age to 21.

This is only one of the new proposals in the Liquor Policy Review.

Another crucial proposal is to restrict the advertising of alcohol and prohibit the promotion of liquor through sponsorships of sport teams and entertainment events.

This will have a huge impact not only on teams who are sponsored by liquor companies, but also the general South African entertainment culture.

The proposal also intends to hold bartenders personally liable for any harm or damage caused if a drunk customer is involved in a car crash or crime. This is in an attempt to deter bartenders from serving customers who are already intoxicated.

There is also a proposal to restrict liquor outlets trading hours to limit accessibility­. Serving alcohol at bars and nightclubs is proposed to end at midnight, the current time is 2am.

It is further proposed that licences will only be issued to outlets that are 500m from schools, churches, recreation facilities, residential areas and public institutions, or at buildings attached to petrol stations and public transport facilities.

This applies to new licences however, existing licences will be phased out within two years. Activist groups such as South Africans Against Drunk Driving (SADD) have welcomed the proposals.

Research by World Health Organisation shows that raising the drinking age to 21 is one way of bringing down preventable deaths.

“One of the main problems with underage drinking is that binge drinking, five units of alcohol in quick succession, is how many youths drink. This causes damage to the brain which can lead to the person becoming dependent on alcohol.

“There is a 40% chance of becoming dependent if heavy drinking starts under 15 years, compared to a 20% chance if they start under 18, and only a nine percent chance if the person starts drinking over the age of 21,” said Caro Smit founder of SADD.

According to statistics, South Africans are the biggest drinkers in Africa, and the fourth worldwide in terms of risky drinking styles.

However, Smit said that implementing the rules is only part of the battle, enforcing them with regular checks is what will curb alcohol problems in South Africa.


George Lawson

Brilliant. Won’t work though as we know kids they will still make a plan. But this could help with these night spots selling to underage kids.

Kim Garlick Truter

Why don’t they make laws for things that are worse than 18 year old drinking. Maybe death penalty? As it was said before... It doesn’t work now at 18 so what’s going to stop it if it changes to 21?

Sone En Alex Graham

I just love that idea. I know kids like drinking on the age of 18 and some at the age of 16 but these are the years you should concentrate on being a young adult and study to further your education. Don’t drink and (maybe) cause an accident and killing others or even get drunk and make a girl pregnant because the your life is over. Then you have to be a proper adult before you are even ready to do so. I say yes to the drinking age going up to 21.

Linda Naicker

I don’t think it will make any d ifference, kids will still find a way to get alcohol. It is up to the community and individuals to make sure that rules like this are enforced.

Lezli-ann Strydom

Young men were expected to fight for their country at the age of eighteen. So tell me why an eighteen year old can’t enjoy a beer?

Dawn Kimble

Instead of policing and enforcing the laws already in place they are making up new ones that are more impractical and even harder to enforce. Individuals need to take more responsibility for their own actions and conduct.

Chiara Grenfell Breytenbach

They can’t even control underage drinking now, so what is the point?

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