Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Legal drinking age should be lowered

Published:  23 July, 2008

UK: Lowering the legal drinking age could help tackle the country's binge culture

Flying in the face of chief constables, doctors and psychiatrist, who have over the past few months all called for a rise in the legal drinking age to 21, a leading medical expert has suggested it should in fact be lowered to 16.

Professor John Ashton, director of Public Health at Cumbria NHS Primary Care Trust, claims allowing teenagers to drink alcohol in pubs is the best way to encourage them to drink responsibly, and thereby tackle the UK's binge culture.

He said: "Teenagers are drinking in risky circumstances. They go to parks, open spaces, or out on the street. They get drunk and have unprotected sex.

"We need some creative solutions and what we haven't tried is to treat them like adults, and to expect them to behave like adults in return.

"We also have to find ways of setting realistic ambitions, such as not drinking every night of the week or drinking with food, rather than just to get drunk."

In August, chief constable of Cheshire police, Peter Fahy, called for the drinking age to be raised from 18 to 21. A similar conclusion was drawn by thinktank within the Institute for Public Policy Research.

Leading medical journal, The Lancet, also published an article calling for the drinking age to be raised to 21, with Dr Russell Viner, a paediatrician at University College London claiming that binge drinking was a 'serious problem' among young people. His call, however, was rejected by industry bodies including the Bar Entertainment and Dance Association, (BEDA) which said that raising the drinking age would 'simply further drive the trend towards unmediated access to alcohol'.