Home South African Suggestion to raise legal drinking age welcomed but concerns remain

Suggestion to raise legal drinking age welcomed but concerns remain

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The proposal to raise the drinking age from 18 years to 21 is contained in the Draft Liquor Amendment Bill first mooted in 2016. The process was halted before the bill could be sent to Parliament for consideration.

The proposal to raise the drinking age from 18 years to 21 is contained in the Draft Liquor Amendment Bill first mooted in 2016. Picture: Mlondolozi Mbolo/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

RAISING the legal drinking age as President Cyril Ramaphosa suggested in his eulogy at the funeral of the 21 teenagers who died at an East London tavern was contained in proposed legislation but abandoned five years ago.

The proposal to raise the drinking age from 18 years to 21 is contained in the Draft Liquor Amendment Bill first mooted in 2016. The process was halted before the bill could be sent to Parliament for consideration.

The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance SA (SAAPA SA) and 66 civil society alliance partners, colleagues in the public health and research sectors developed an 11-point plan calling on Ramaphosa to act decisively and effectively by taking steps to initiate an urgent response to the crisis – including getting the Liquor Amendment Bill ready to be sent to Parliament.

SAAPA SA spokesperson Terri-Liza Fortein said SAAPA SA and others had regularly called for processing of the bill to resume.

Fortein said they fully supported raising the age limit as there were cogent, evidence-based health and social benefits to do so, but only raising the age of drinking would not achieve anything.

A comprehensive, whole-of-government approach to addressing the issue was needed, she said.

Cape Argus

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