Young people split over legal drinking age

2014-07-23 12:30

One in two young South Africans believe the current legal drinking age of 18 should be lowered.

A survey “found that 50% of respondents believed it appropriate for people under 18 to drink alcoholic drinks,” consumer insights company Pondering Panda said today.

“Forty-three percent of 15- to 17-year-olds felt the age at which people should legally be able to drink should be under 18, compared with 54% of 18- to 24-year-olds, and 48% of 25- to 34-year-olds.”

Among race groups, young white South Africans were the most likely to want a legal drinking age under 18.

“Almost two-thirds of whites [63%] felt the legal drinking age should be lowered, compared with 59% of coloureds, and 46% of blacks,” it said.

“There were also regional differences, with respondents from the North West [59%], Limpopo [57%], and the Free State [57%] the most likely to support a legal drinking age under 18.”

KwaZulu-Natal respondents were the least in favour of a lower drinking age.

The company interviewed 4 657 respondents between the ages of 15 and 34 across South Africa in May on cellphones and the internet.

“One in two young people feel it’s okay to drink alcohol before the age of 18 and would like to lower the legal drinking age. These figures align well with similar studies on under-age drinking in South Africa,” said Shirley Eadie, spokesperson for Pondering Panda.

“However, balancing this liberal view is that we’ve also found that about half of young people feel under-age drinking is a problem, which affects how they view the legal drinking age.”

Eadie said the survey put a spotlight on under-age drinking in the country, and the “disturbingly” high support for legalising it.

“What we know is that under-age drinking is prevalent in our society. The question is, what are we going to do about it?”

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